By: Helen Man
In August 2021, the United States completely withdrew from Afghanistan, ending the 20-year-old war. President Biden claimed that the withdrawal from Afghanistan would not look the same as the withdrawal from Vietnam; no one would be dragged off the roof of the US embassy; no Americans nor Americans’ friends would be left behind. The President also cited that the US has trained and equipped nearly 300,000 troops in Afghanistan, which is more than enough to deal with the Taliban; and this is a glorious withdrawal.
However, what happened after the US military left was that the Afghan government had no intention to defend the country and surrendered without fighting. The president of Afghanistan fled the country with a huge amount of money. Taliban seized control of Afghanistan shortly after. The Taliban took over the American weapons and equipment, hurting and killing people in the country. The US, UK, Germany, Italy, and other countries were forced to evacuate their diplomatic staff immediately.
While the US was evacuating at Kabul airport, the Taliban blocked the passage to the airport. Tens of thousands of Afghans have made desperate attempts to escape. The horrible scene in Afghanistan stunned the world. As people were trying to flee, some were trampled to death in the chaos, some were run over by the huge airplane, some fell to their deaths while clinging to moving US aircraft. Then suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds flocking to Kabul’s airport causing death of more than 100 people, including 13 American soldiers and wounded countless. (Note)
Why US withdraws
In the past 20 years, the United States and the United Nations have tried to help Afghanistan in countering terrorism and reconstruction. The US has spent a large amount of money each year supplying military weapons and training the Afghan government army. After the US killed Bin Laden, who was the mastermind of the 911 attack in 2013, the US and NATO wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan. Due to the corruption of the Afghan government and the continued attacks from the Taliban, the withdrawal of troops has been delayed.
Both former President Obama and Trump have previously announced the withdrawal from Afghanistan. When Trump was in office, he had been reducing the US troops. Trump had planned for a complete withdrawal to happen by May 1st, 2021. Trump stated that the US should not be involved in such a never-ending war.
According to a report in April 2021, during the 20-year war, thousands of lives have been lost, including 2,448 US soldiers, 3,846 US contractors, 66,000 Afghan soldiers, 1,144 NATO members, 47,245 civilians, 51,191 terrorists, 444 United Nations rescuers, and 72 news reporters. It is estimated that the US has spent approximately $2 trillion in the war. The US has also promised to spend more than $2 trillion for about 4 million Afghan veterans in assistance of their medical care, disability expenses, burial, and other related expenses. (Note)
The best choice appears for the U.S. to withdraw from the war and let Afghanistan be independent and self-governing.
How to withdraw gloriously
According to Trump’s plan, American civilians and American friends in Afghanistan would retreat first, followed by the valuable advanced weapons, then the US military. Before leaving, the US would destroy the military bases and all weapons that could not be removed.
Unfortunately, Biden’s execution of the withdrawal went the opposite direction. The US army retreated too early and they abandoned the military airport too soon. This disabled the US to secure the retreat of the American fellows and their friends. The American weapons and equipment were left in Afghanistan and ended up in the hands of the Taliban. The most disturbing was that the US handed the Taliban a list of names of the American friends, with the intention of helping them to flee to the airport smoothly. But this made it easy for the Taliban to chase after these people quickly. (Note)
The Taliban has ruled Afghanistan between 1996 to 2001, making it the base for terrorism. They shocked the world as they brutally treated their dissenters. They killed people in public execution, crucifixion, massacre, and genocide. They slaughtered Christians and believers of other religions. They trafficked women and children. Their cruelty to women is the hallmark as they deprived the human rights of women. Women are not allowed to work nor receive education, not allowed to leave home without a male companion, and not allowed to get out of their house without covering from head-to-toe. The Taliban also murdered innocent men and gave their wives to the soldiers for pleasure and sold other women as sex slaves. Even during the 20 years when the Taliban has stepped down, these kinds of crimes continued.
The U.S. Involvement & the Afghanistan War
- On September 11, 2001, the Afghan-based militant Al-Qaeda launched an attack on the United States with 19 terrorists. They hijacked four civilian aircrafts. Two of them crashed into the 110-story Twin Towers in New York City causing a complete collapse of the Twin Towers shortly after. One airplane crashed into the Pentagon while another one aimed at the White House or the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.. Due to the fight that broke out between the passengers on board and the terrorists, the plane on the way to D.C. crashed in Shanksville at the outskirts of Pennsylvania. In the 911 attack, the U.S. lost at least 2,996 lives and spent more than $23 billion in cleaning up the aftermath and reconstruction that lasted years.
- Three months later, the U.S. and U.K. , along with the support of NATO, attacked the Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan in order to eliminate the threat from the terrorists.
- In December 2001, the Taliban collapsed and fled into the mountains. The United Nations invited the major leaders in Afghanistan to participate in a meeting in Bonn, Germany where the Bonn Agreement was signed to restore order. The UN Security Council established the “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF) to help Afghanistan to rebuild.
- From 2001 to 2009, the United States had provided humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan with more than $38 billion.
- In June 2002, a transitional administration was established in Afghanistan with Hamid Karzai as the interim President.
- Since 2003, NATO has strengthened its support, expanding the NATO army from 5,000 to 65,000 soldiers. All 28 NATO members have participated in operations in southern Afghanistan in order to eradicate the terrorist organizations.
- Afghanistan was moving towards democracy. In 2004, 502 representatives of different groups in Afghanistan came to an agreement of the constitution. In October of the same year, a historic referendum was held. Karzai was elected as the first President and was re-elected in 2009.
- In 2005, the President of Afghanistan and President Bush of the United States issued a joint statement to become partners in counter-terrorism. The United States helped train and equip the Afghan troops to ensure the security, democracy, and prosperity of Afghanistan.
- In September 2005, more than 6 million Afghans voted in the first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years. Nearly half of all Afghans casting ballots were women, and 68 out of 249 seats were set aside for female members of Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament. In the upper house, 23 out of 102 seats were reserved for women. The human rights of women in Afghanistan have greatly improved and it became popular for women to receive education and hold important positions.
- In 2006, the Taliban came back with frequent intense fighting.
- In 2009, President Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops. The U.S. military had reached 68,000 troops.
- In 2010, NATO leaders agreed to transfer security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
- On May 1, 2011, the U.S. killed Bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11. In the same year, NATO met in Bonn, Germany, to formulate a plan to withdraw by 2014.
- In June 2013, Afghan security forces assumed responsibility for all military and security operations from NATO forces on the same day officials announced that the Taliban and the United States will resume negotiations.
- In May 2014, Obama announced that he would withdraw most of the US military by the end of 2016.
- In 2017, President Trump sent a signal to extend the war in Afghanistan due to the resurgence of frequent terrorist attacks.
- Under a negotiation in 2019, the US agreed to pull roughly half of its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for peace. Later in 2020, the Doha Agreement was signed and the US committed a conditional full withdrawal by May 1, 2021 if the Taliban fulfilled their commitments.
- In 2020 after nearly 20 years of war, the Taliban met face-to-face with the Afghan government for the first time. Both parties expressed desire for peace after the U.S. forces left Afghanistan.
- On November 17, 2020 just days before President-elect Biden took office, Trump announced a plan of complete withdrawal by May 1, 2021 fulfilling his promise to end the “forever war”.
- On April 14, 2021, President Biden ordered complete withdrawal by August 31, 2021. But a few months later, Afghanistan once again fell under control to the Taliban.
What can we rely on?
Afghanistan has relied on the protection from the powerful force of the United States and NATO for 20 years. It has moved towards democracy and independence. However, once the backing retreated, the building of 20-years swiftly disappeared.
What can we rely on? It is definitely not money, status, prestige, or health. Because all these are not eternal and ever-changing. Only God is eternal. And HE is the only one we can rely on. The Bible says: “You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Hebrews 1:12) “But from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:17)
God who created all things on earth will never change. HIS love will always stay. God loves us so much that HE even sent HIS only beloved son, Jesus, into the world to bear our sins being crucified on the cross. Jesus saved us as HE was resurrected three days after death. Whoever believes in Him does not perish, but have eternal life.
As we trust God, we are forgiven from our sins and are given eternal life. We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts as our help at all times. Even in troubles, God stays with us. We can rely on HIM. HE is the solid rock that backed us all the time. I hope you will accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and rely on HIS grace and never-changing love. Amen!
Note: Internet search.