America Should Have Stayed in Afghanistan

“I am in my house, and I feel like I have no home. I miss the little things I used to do that I can never do again: go to a bookstore alone, sit in a cafe and talk to people,(New York Times). These are the words of Haanya, a 20-year old Afghan woman. Haanya hasn’t left her house in 10 days, ever since conditions became too dangerous due to Taliban troops patrolling just outside her home.

   The U.S. invaded Afghanistan 20 years ago in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda. The war cost 170,000 lives and over $2 trillion before President Biden ordered the full withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2021 (New York Times). Under U.S. occupation, the future appeared promising for millions of Afghans: the presence of the U.S. military and economic aid fostered security and stability in the country, where creativity and prosperity were once again beginning to emerge. Because of the invasion, the U.S. had a moral responsibility to see the war through to the end and to ensure a peaceful conclusion for the Afghan people. However, the consequences and sheer messiness of the abrupt American withdrawal from Afghanistan show just how badly the American government had messed up.

    President Biden should have anticipated the consequences of Taliban occupation: loss of basic rights for Afghan women, such as education and self-transportation, the implementation of brutal capital punishments, and access to new weapons for the Taliban that place international security at risk. Currently, 22.8 million people in Afghanistan, over half of the population, will face “acute food insecurity” this winter (Washington Post). President Biden’s advisors, from his own general’s to top intelligence advisors, advised him to minimize, not completely extract, the number of American troops stationed in Afghanistan. General Mark Miley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying “Decision makers are not required, in any manner, shape or form, to follow that advice” (New York Times). Because of President Biden’s complete disregard for professional advice, the country and its resources are now in the Taliban’s hands.

Despite the risks, President Biden chose politics over people. He ordered a full American withdrawal from Afghanistan claiming that he “was not going to extend this forever war” and sacrifice more American lives. While these are noble sentiments, Biden used these arguments as political leverage to resonate with his voter base, indeed winning a political victory with his supporters. However, petty politics is no excuse for the devastation in Afghanistan caused by the Taliban occupation.

    Haanya can no longer continue her once-promising career as a freelance journalist. However, she is just one person among many. The Biden administration should not only acknowledge the mistakes in Afghanistan, but consider how to address the future consequences.  The government needs to prioritize promises and innocent people over political rewards.