the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Grace Yuan ’23
Two decades ago, the United States military began to implement strikes against terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. The attacks were aimed at rooting out al Qaeda, a terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden. According to Jenkins (2021), the attacks – a part of the US government’s international military campaign in Afghanistan – are a response to the al Qaeda attack on the United States in 2001. However, after two decades, the current U.S. president, Joe Biden, has resolved to withdraw all American military troops from Afghanistan following a negotiation between the previous administration and the Taliban government. During the negotiations, the Taliban government had promised to undertake attacks on the U.S. if they failed to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. Despite the heavy losses the ongoing war has imposed on both the U.S. and Afghanistan, some officials have expressed opposition to President Biden’s decision to withdraw the troops.
According to Sullivan (2021), the war has cost the United States trillions of dollars and the death of more than 2000 U.S. military troop members. The United States’ total military expenditure between 2001 and 2019 is estimated to have been around $780 billion. The money has been used to cater to military needs including food, medication, and benefits. President Biden has resolved to put this war to an end by withdrawing the troops, and he believes that his decision will help to reduce the losses. In Afghanistan, more than 50,000 Afghanistan citizens have been injured or lost their lives as a result of crossfire, explosions, assassinations, and bombings. Hospitals in Afghanistan are flooded with civilians suffering from war wounds. Consequently, the Afghanistan government is ready to employ every means to ensure the withdrawal of American military troops from the country (Jenkins, 2021).
The United States government is shifting its focus to bigger strategic interests in the world. According to Sullivan (2021), some of these strategic interests include rapidly growing and aggressive nations such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea. These counties have posed a threat to the U.S. because of their sophisticated nuclear programs, one of the greatest being China. Due to China’s intelligence operations and growing influence, the country has posed military and cybersecurity concerns. While Afghanistan has not reached the level of those threats and is not the main focus at the moment, the United States government does not intend to turn away from Afghanistan; instead, it will employ diplomatic means to assist in maintaining peace between the two countries. The U.S government will continue to provide human welfare aid and security forces to the Afghan government while still monitoring the peace process (Chaudhuri & Shende, 2020).
A senior official opposed President Biden's decision drawing on the experience from Iraq where the Islamic state renewed its strength after the U.S. government withdrew its military troops from Iraq. The official suggested that the U.S. should retain intelligence and military in Afghanistan to ensure al-Qaeda does not turn into a major fighting force and potentially threaten the United States. The officials admitted that a counterterrorism force would remain to guard the U.S Embassy (Sullivan, 2021).
In conclusion, President Biden's decision to withdraw the troops will cement an everlasting peace between the two countries and put to end violence and turbulence. The U.S. government will be able to turn its focus on the main transnational terrorism which is now elsewhere in the globe. The U.S. administration will now be in a position to shift its resources towards more domestic issues such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is of major concern, or even international affairs such as China’s growing economy and military strength.
Chaudhuri, R., & Shende, S. (2020). Dealing with the Taliban: India's Strategy in Afghanistan
After US Withdrawal. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Jenkins, B. M. (2021). Commentary: Securing the Least Bad Outcome: The Options Facing
Biden on Afghanistan.
Sullivan, C. J. (2021). WHITE FLAGS: ON THE RETURN OF THE AFGHAN TALIBAN
AND THE FATE OF AFGHANISTAN. Asian Affairs, 1-15.