U.S. Diplomacy Turns Fatal: The Case of Afghanistan

Nora Bourouihiya - Teen Aspect - July 29th, 2022
U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire a howitzer artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai district, Kandahar province southern Afghanistan, June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
 

In September 2021, the United States evacuated thousands of people from the falling government of Afghanistan. This follows after the United States agreed with the Taliban to withdraw all troops until September 21st, ending an almost 20 years long war with the Taliban. In 2002, following the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda, The US sent troops to Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda operations and avenge the Taliban for providing safe havens for Al Qaeda.


The United States spent upwards of two trillion dollars and sent upwards of 1.4 million troops.


An unnamed senior US official, who was a civilian in Afghanistan, criticized the Obama administration for sending 100,000 troops all at once for 18 months.

”It would’ve been better to only send a fraction.”


In May 2012, a US Navy SEAL team killed Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda and in a speech, former President Barack Obama promised to start the process of withdrawing troops starting in 2014. By then, the Pentagon had declared that the war couldn’t be fought militarily, as that was one of the US’s main tactics.

Obama planned to withdraw almost 4,000 troops by the time his term ended in January 2017 but was only successful in withdrawing roughly 1,000. Although many Americans were opposed to keeping troops in Afghanistan, Obama and the Pentagon believed the Taliban was still a major threat to US security and it best to leave troops in Afghanistan.


By February 2020, former President Donald Trump signed the Doha agreement, an agreement between the US and Taliban forces to ensure US troops would be able to evacuate in May of 2021.


General Frank Mackenzie, commander of the US central command, criticized withdrawing troops, arguing that the fewer troops there would be, Afghanistan will fall quickly.


Well, that’s exactly what happened.


In August 2021, the United States began to withdraw its troops and on August 15th the Taliban took full control of Kabul. US intelligence predicted that Afghanistan would fall 30-90 days after troops departed.


The US regards Afghanistan as a loss. Although there isn’t a central reason as to why the US counterterrorism strategy failed many believe it could’ve been the number of troops that have deployed, the progression of the Taliban while the US withdrew troops or other external forces.


As of right now, the United States has no known plans of deploying troops or reconstructing new counterterrorism strategies. Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador of Afghanistan gave a testimony at the United States senate:


“Peoples of this region learned long ago that it is not possible to prevail by force of arms over the better trained and equipped forces of the West”.


A Pentagon analysis stated that 40% of the $108 billion that the Defense Department paid to contractors in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2012 ended up in the hands of the Taliban or other extremist groups.


The Afghan war was a product of corruption and mismanagement that ultimately resulted in the Taliban being the bigger player.


In the end, the United States must find a newer counterterrorism strategy that won’t result in a fatal flaw.


References


Aljazeera. (2021, September 30). US general says Afghanistan collapse rooted in Trump-Taliban deal. Al Jazeera. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2021/9/30/us-generals-say-afghanistan-collapse-ro oted-in-trump-taliban-deal


Brown University. (n.d.). US Veterans & Military Families | Costs of War. The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/veterans


Crocker, R. (2021, November 17). Afghanistan 2001-2021: US Policy Lessons Learned. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/11/17/afghanistan-2001-2021-u.s.-policy-lessons-le arned-pub-85814


Lee, C. E. (2016, July 7). Obama to Slow Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/obama-to-slow-troop-withdrawal-from-afghanistan-1467817803


Martinez, l., & Finnegan, C. (2020, April 15). US military analysis says Kabul could fall to Taliban in 90 days: Official. YouTube. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Politics/us-military-analysis-kabul-fall-taliban-90-days/story?id=79404085


Whitlock, C. (2021, August 12). Obama administration hid the truth about war's end: 'The Afghanistan Papers' book excerpt. The Washington Post. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2021/08/12/obama-afghan-war-ending-a fghanistan-papers-book-excerpt/


Wilkie, C. (2021, September 10). '9/11 millionaires' and mass corruption: How American money helped break Afghanistan. CNBC. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2021/09/10/9/11-millionaires-and-corruption-how-us-moneyhelped-break-afghanistan.html

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