It’s time to end the artless War in Afghanistan


The American government used taxpayer dollars to build a corrupt government, fabricated statistics, wasted millions to construct empty schools and engendered a new drug crisis — these are not conspiracy theories but facts about American involvement in the Afghanistan War. This war is a major political issue today, as the scale and duration of the conflict drastically affect military spending, the lives of American soldiers and Middle Eastern politics.

As the information about American involvement in the Middle East increases, the case against this involvement has become unassailable. American troops and funding in Afghanistan must be recalled immediately.

The lesson of the past two decades—and other protracted interventions like the Vietnam War — is that victory is not imminent as leaders have said. In actuality, each year brings new problems.

The professed objective of the war, to curb terrorism, is worthwhile. However, the actual development of the war proves that a traditional, large-scale war is impotent to oppose terrorism of this nature. Although George W. Bush and later presidents reiterated that the objective of the war was to destroy the Taliban, they failed to concentrate resources toward this goal. New government documents released through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the generals never decided whether to emphasize attacking the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, or the panoply of foreign jihadists. But even if the forces had made a concerted effort, President Trump mooted this pretext by actively negotiating with the Taliban rather than with the internationally-recognized democratic government it sought to promote. It turns out that we really do negotiate with terrorists.

Regardless of the fact that military officials failed to work concentratedly against the Taliban, the relevant statistics demonstrate that they did not even reduce terrorism from the Taliban over the long-term. Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan continued and, over some periods, increased, even with American forces and the American-trained Afghan Security Forces. Under the pressures of public opinion, officials made the absurd qualification that the increasing suicide bombings implied the Taliban were becoming desperate; they were simply becoming emboldened. 

The lesson of the past two decades—and other protracted interventions like the Vietnam War — is that victory is not imminent as leaders have said. In actuality, each year brings new problems. The Taliban has maintained control despite the billions of dollars America has spent in Afghanistan. The Afghan Security Forces suffered enormous losses due to its soldiers stealing oil and other supplies from the American bases that were training them. Meanwhile, a program that paid opium poppy farmers to burn their crops only stimulated the growth of opium further, leading to a new War on Drugs in the Middle East.

In February, President Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban to a conditional peace that required 14 months without conflict for American troops to leave the country. However, the Trump administration continued to exclude the legitimate government, and in March the Taliban resumed attacks against the Afghan Armed Forces. American troops retaliated with missile strikes against the Taliban, and it now seems that hopes of a slow recall of troops have vanished.

Although many already support ending the Afghanistan War for vague reasons, a deeper analysis reveals that the military effort has been a budget-draining failure that only caused new problems. President Trump claims that he will end the war with an ideal peace. But maintaining this hope will only extend the war. There can be no perfect end to the war that the current agreement is contingent upon. In this way, the new policy will only perpetuate the war. Voters must fight to end the war in every arena they can—not in 14 months, but today.