by Ashka Jani ’22
Published May 9th, 2021
President Joe Biden recently announced his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, starting May 1 and ending September 11. These troops were originally deployed to Afghanistan by President Bush after the 9/11 attacks to restrict Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda followers from further terrorizing the U.S. Though this action received international support at the time, the U.S. has lost 2,400 troops and has spent about $2 trillion on the war effort since then.
The Trump administration originally negotiated with the Taliban to remove troops by May 1, but President Biden decided to push back the date to September 11, which marks the twentieth anniversary of the attacks that started the war in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon advised that the United States remain in Afghanistan until their security forces are sufficiently prepared to assert themselves against the Taliban and other terrorist threats. The Afghan government currently suffers from corruption, and their security forces have limited training and resources.
When the Taliban had control of the country between 1996 and 2001, Afghan women were systematically victimized and publicly abused. Those accused of adultery were stoned to death, and anyone who showed any skin from under the covering of a burqa were whipped. Ever since the United States took control, women were able to receive an education, rejoin the workforce, and take part of the police and army. People fear that if the Taliban regain control, women’s rights would be rolled back, and the number of violent acts against them would once again increase.
Today, the Taliban control more territory in Afghanistan than their previous rule over the nation. Civilian casualties are on the rise as the Taliban continue their violent campaign across the country. In 2020, because of the ongoing conflict, an average of eight Afghans were killed and fifteen were injured every day. Unfortunately, these numbers seem to be increasing.
There have been mixed reactions to the president’s announcement. Retired Navy Admiral, James Stavridis, says, “It’s entirely possible it could reflash, not only Taliban but also Al Qaeda — now the Islamic State. We’d better be prepared to come back in there if we have to.” However, Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran, said, “Words cannot adequately express how huge this is for troops and military families, who have weathered deployment after deployment, with no end in sight, for the better part of two decades.”