Was Withdrawing from Afghanistan a Mistake?

Opinions on Debatable Issues #37

In early August, the Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. and its allies melted away, allowing the Taliban force to easily take over major cities in a couple of days, according to AP News. The chaos this withdrawal incurred was horrific.

6 Political Takeaways For President Biden From The Chaotic Afghanistan  Withdrawal : NPR
NPR

At the Kabul Airport, some desperately tried to flee by “[clanging] to the side of a military jet as it took off and then plunged to their deaths”, according to AP News. Meanwhile, as the U.S. troops used helicopters and warning shots to disperse the crowds, at least seven people died. Despite promising peace and safety, the Taliban regime has already killed at least 27 children in Afghanistan in three days, according to the UN. If the US did not sign the peace treaty and withdraw its army, the Taliban would not have the audacity to take over the country and oust the Afghanistan government. Without proper planning to ensure that the Afghanistan government can stand on its own feet, the US irresponsibly incurred the chaos that destabilized the entire country, engendered bloodshed, and caused a refugee issue.

West struggles with Afghanistan chaos, Biden again defends withdrawal |  Reuters
Reuters

In addition, leaving at this point, the US makes Afghanistan struggle at a worse place than 20 years ago. Violence in Afghanistan grew to its highest levels in two decades. “Security incidents have risen over 60% in the first three months of 2021” compared to 2020 as the US signed the peace treaty with the Taliban and started evacuating military personnel. Even though things started looking better on the surface in the past 20 years, Afghanistan remains heavily reliant on US support from economic, military, social, and technical aspects. According to NPR news, the US “rooted out corruption”, but also injected billions of dollars into the Afghan economy to boost economic growth. The US “gave Afghan security forces a competitive edge” against the Taliban, but also limited equipment and skills that they needed to sustain after a U.S. departure. Moreover, the US reduced the cultivation of poppies while depriving the farmers and laborers who depend on them.

Won't relinquish our rights': Afghan women protest, say haven't been  allowed to work by Taliban | World News - Hindustan Times
HIndustan Times

As a result, the Afghanistan government resisted minimally as Taliban militants seized the country. This means that many of the benefits or improvements Afghans were experiencing would disappear and their economic and social status easily degrade back to the starting point. After the US ended Taliban control, the infant mortality rate dropped by 50%, according to AP news. Women and children got more education, equality, and the chance to speak up for themselves. Those efforts, accomplished by 20 years of the devotion of human resources, estimated $2 trillion in credit, and technologies will all go wasted.

The action was also bad for the US as the Taliban blatantly broke the promise on their side of the peace treaty. When They agreed “not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies”, the UN Monitoring Team observed that “the Taliban remains ‘closely aligned’ with terrorist network al-Qaeda.” When the US upheld its side of the bargain by giving up its military grasp in Afghanistan and breaking ties with Afghans, the Taliban continued to threaten US national security.

Taliban keep close ties with Al Qaeda despite promise to U.S.
NBC News

In addition, the mission turned from ending American military presence in Afghanistan to rescue refugees as the Taliban’s cruel and violent rule forced many out of the country. This undermines the progress of steadily decreasing Afghan refugees for the past 20 years. According to Aljazeera, the US “has admitted Afghan refugees throughout its 20-year involvement in the country” and that number has dropped off significantly in recent years. However, due to the current crisis, in early August, the US “expanded Afghan refugee criteria to include current and former employees of US-based media organizations, aid and development agencies, and other relief groups that receive US funding”. It was said that the US is preparing to accommodate up to 22,000 evacuees. This influx of refugees would likely heat the political debate and escalate political polarization that has divided the country badly already.

The US must be responsible for the humanitarian crisis it created, regardless that it was unintentional. I do not support permanent military presence in Afghanistan and understand the frustration of many. However, it is not the best time to withdraw and leave Afghans to face the violent Taliban alone. In short, the US left Afghanistan on its own when it was not provided the necessary means to be completely independent of foreign support, causing 20 years of effort, thousands of American lives, and trillions of dollars to go wasted. And that was a mistake.

Biden suggests 'chaos' in Afghanistan withdrawal was inevitable despite  predicting no 'Saigon' moment in July | Fox News
Fox News

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