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An Understanding Of The War In Afghanistan Politics Essay

The war in Afghanistan is seen very different in the eyes most Americans. They all view it in their own way be it either they support the reason for the war and why we keep troops there or they believe the war is a waste of the United States time and resources. With an overview of the history of the unrest in Afghanistan, the reason for the United States involvement in Afghanistan and why we stayed after the initial mission and the progress so far as well as monetary consequences of the war itself. All this will give you an understanding and enough information to form your own view of it all.

Afghanistan is located in the Middle East between Iran and Pakistan and is an impoverish landlocked Asian country. Afghanistan has been unruly for about thirty years starting in 1979 with the Soviet Union joining the communist government of Afghanistan and helping to put down an Islamist insurgency. Mujahedeen, or religious guerrillas, fought to push the Soviets out and in 1989 they were able to drive them out with help from the Reagan Administration that armed and funded the mujahedeen as a cold war tactic. After three years, the Soviets finally left and the communist government fell. Although there was many factions fighting for control; Mullah Mohammed Omar took control and formed the Taliban, which means students. The Taliban’s rules started in 1996 and they created very strict Islamic laws. After the Taliban took over, anti-Taliban groups were forced to flee into the northern part of Afghanistan and from there they lead various attacks on the capital. To help fight the anti-Taliban groups, Al-Qaeda joined the Taliban. Al-Qaeda is a terrorist group formed by Osama bin-Laden.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 misfortune struck the United States. Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners. They intentionally crashed two of the planes into the twin towers in New York City. The third plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Virginia. The fourth hijacked plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after come of the passengers and flight crew tried to take back control of the place. If the passengers had not tried this on the fourth plane, reports said that the plane was either targeting the Capital building or the White House. As president at the time George W. Bush gave Afghanistan a choice. They were to hand over the terrorists responsible for the attack or be attacked as well. Since the Taliban was friends with Osama, they refused to give them up. Not a month had passed before the United States air strikes began on October 7th 2001. The initial goal was to remove the Taliban from power and to find Osama bin-Laden and his commanding officers and to destroy Al-Qaeda completely. In November 12th, 2001, the Taliban forces fled from the capital city of Kabul and retreated toward the mountains between the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the Taliban had left, the United States helped install a new government with Hamid Karzai as President. “The U.S. originally hoped to replace the Taliban regime with a Western-style democracy. Corruption seems to run deep in the Karzai government, however; our main purposes now are to keep the Taliban from returning to power and to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for anti-Western terrorist groups. In order to accomplish that, the U.S. will have to help Karzai’s government provide Afghan citizens with basic services and security, so they won’t give their support to the Taliban” (The War in Afghanistan). From 2002 and on, the Taliban mainly focused on surviving and rebuilding its forces. From 2005 to now, the Taliban has continues to attack the newly installed government and American troops. Not only is the Taliban making it difficult to be able to set up a new government but Afghanistan itself is troubled. There are a few main reasons why the war is so hard to win. Mainly is the Afghanistan is made up of many tribes and groups that have been at conflict for a long time. This makes it very difficult to bring them all together under one government since they each want their own things. Other than the people, the geography of the area has a huge impact. The mountainous terrain makes it very hard for troops to do anything and gives the enemy many places to hide and attack from. To add to all the problems, the afghan people don’t trust outsiders making our occupation unwanted and met with hostility.

Since the beginning of the United States involvement in Afghanistan, the country has become better. The old Islamic laws were removed and people become more free. Schools were introduced to educate the public and roads to make transportation of supplies easier as well as travel. “Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has described the campaign in Afghanistan’s south as a slowly rising tide that will require time and patience. He and other military officials also have warned of an inevitable rise in casualties” (Flaherty). In February of 2010, McChrystal took 15,000 US and NATO troops into the city of Marjah with an inhabitance of 35,000 people. Even with such a high ratio of soldiers to citizens, the offensive wasn’t successful because the people living in the area, even though they hated the Taliban, did not want to cooperate with the United States and NATO troops.

The war in Afghanistan is 114 months old (9 years and 6 months). In June 2010, it passed Vietnam, which lasted 103 months, as the longest war in United States history. Thought it has lasted longer, the casualties have not reached and are not expected to reach the 50,000 casualties of American soldiers we had in Vietnam. Currently we have about 1150 dead and 3420 injured and that’s only from US troops. “For today, we remember this "other war’s” duration. 104 months ago, when those first bombs fell, anthrax was terrorizing the nation; Barack Obama was a little-known Illinois state senator; and soldiers now "surging" to Kandahar were in junior high. We didn't have YouTube, or iPhones. And we had not a single soldier in Iraq. 104 months. It's a very long time” (Nagorski 2). In all 114 months, the monetary costs have reached dramatically high prices. The war up to today has cost us about $394,900,000,000. The price, even though it is an approximation, goes up at a rate of $204,000 per minute so depending on how long we stay, it will raise a lot. For now, the war will cost us $106,784,496,000 per year.

There are arguments on whether or not pulling out troops is going to be a good or bad thing. Summed up, here are most of them:

The arguments for staying:

• If the U.S. pulls out its armed forces now, the Taliban will almost certainly return to power, and Islamic terrorists will have a base from which to attack the West.

• Our soldiers who have died will have given their lives for nothing.

• The people of Afghanistan will again be subject to a medieval form of religious law. Women, especially, will lose basic human rights.

• The troop surge worked in Iraq. We should give the strategy a chance to work in Afghanistan.

The arguments for pulling out:

• The government we’re fighting to support is irredeemably corrupt, and can’t provide its people with basic services or security.

• You can’t put down an insurgency without a competent partner, i.e., a capable, credible government. We’re repeating the mistake we made in Vietnam, trying to keep an unpopular government in power by sheer force.

• The British Empire and the Soviet Union both withdrew from Afghanistan in defeat. We shouldn’t sacrifice more American lives in a hopeless cause. (The War in Afghanistan).

As you can see, there are good arguments on each side and each person must come to their own conclusion and how they feel about the whole situation.

I myself feel that we need to pull troops out of Afghanistan. By pulling troops out I don’t mean like a completely pull out but I mean taking out most of the 130,000 people we have there and just leaving in some. The cost of the war will just keep going up and will just make the economic situation worse. We have a national debt of $14 trillion and a pull out will lower that dramatically since we wouldn’t be using the money for the war and we would be and to reform the national budget to things that matter more like education and research and development. Referring to the people of Afghanistan, they might appreciate and need the help but they don’t all want it. They see it as an intrusion of the United States into their country. They don’t cooperate with the US and NATO troops and let the insurgents hide among them. When you try to help out a population, the only way to actually help them is for them to allow you to help them. Setting up a new government is hard, and even harder when the people of a country on work together to solve their problem. Since they are made up of many different tribes and groups, they don’t see eye to eye and have had a long history of conflict and rivalry. So making a government that complies and makes all the groups happy will be unusually hard. Other than that, the government being set up has had corruption problems and seems that it’s being destroyed and attacked from the inside and the outside. The whole incident to me seems as a whole new Vietnam incident. The same situation happened in Vietnam with the people not cooperating and the government not being able to do much. Casualties are lower but the outcome seems the same. But let us say that if tomorrow we do say "we're pulling the troops out" the withdrawal itself I say would take about 6 months to a year. During that time the Afghan government would have to better their training and equipping of its own security forces to the point where they can defend themselves. In my opinion, I see a risky solution to it all. If the United States does pull out, there’s a high to almost certain chance that the Taliban will take over again. But this time, things will be different from the citizens. The last time the Taliban took over, they people wanted to get rid of the Soviet Union and the communistic government Afghanistan had. Now they have seen what they can have and can accomplish. They have gotten more educated and have seen what it’s like on the other side. They have tasted freedom in a way and won’t give it up so easily. The Taliban WILL be met with resistance and would not be accepted. The people today are too linked up with the world and can easily defeat the Taliban. With this happening, the Taliban would most likely die off. The reasonable approach would be just stepping aside and let the Afghans work it out for themselves. There isn’t one great or peaceful solution but this would be the best for us and allow the people to reclaim their lands for themselves.

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