U.S. Completes Pullout In Afghanistan, Leaving Chaos In Its Wake

Thursday, August 26th: Twin bomb attacks on Kabul airport orchestrated by Isis-Khorosan result in 170 civilian deaths and 13 U.S. military fatalities. The attack was expected, but escaping citizens were too desperate to heed warnings.

Sunday, August 29th: U.S.A. strikes ISIS explosive-filled vehicle using drone technology. Ten Afghan civilians were killed, including six children, despite U.S. spokesperson reporting that “we would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life,” according to New York Times.

Monday, August 30th: Unites States shoots down rockets aimed at Kabul airport.

This picture does not resemble the budding new democratic peace the U.S. claimed it would leave behind in Afghanistan. Instead, its recent actions exemplify overarching naivety and a nationalism that questions its ability to serve other countries as a global power.

U.S.A. entered Afghanistan in 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, pledging to disband Taliban forces and terrorist groups like ISIS. Later on, President Bush claimed that the U.S. was also committed to helping Afghanistan build a more democratic environment. Before United States entered, the Taliban controlled almost 90% of Afghanistan, according to the BBC. Now, they once again control the nation after the Afghan president fled in mid-August. As the U.S. leaves Afghanistan on August 31st, aside from the assassination of Osama bin Laden, it has almost nothing to show for its 20 years in the country. The Afghan forces American troops helped to train and support since 2014 were unable to hold off Taliban advances; women’s freedoms and educational opportunities for which the U.S. advocated will likely be scaled back under the Taliban’s strict Sharia regulations.

The independent and democratic system U.S.A. believed could thrive in Afghanistan will now be concentrated solely in the powerful hands of the Taliban, with citizens losing any political voice. Although the people of Afghanistan should be free to construct their own government, United States is too deeply involved to leave so abruptly. It is abandoning Afghanistan in the midst of large numbers of fleeing refugees, terrorist threats, and the Taliban’s power vacuum, leaving these crises to other world powers to solve as American troops return home.

The U.S.’ actions continue to demonstrate a prioritization of American lives over any others and a disregard for anything standing in the way of their removal. The New York Times reports that an intelligence brief this past spring predicted that “Afghanistan could fall largely under Taliban control within two to three years after the departure of international forces.” Instead, this happened in fifteen days. In his July White House press conference, Joe Biden justified the removal, saying: “So, let me ask those who wanted us to stay: How many more — how many thousands more of America’s daughters and sons are you willing to risk?  How long would you have them stay?” The real question is: how many innocent Afghan lives is the U.S. willing to risk? Based on the last month, it seems however many it takes to ensure Americans are safe.

The United States has helped over 116,000 people out of Afghanistan as the Taliban rule has grown, according to CNBC. While this is respectable, it is the least it could do after essentially paving the way for the conditions in which the U.S. is leaving Afghanistan and does not consider all those who were unable to escape, left hanging from airplanes or clamoring at the airport doors. Although United States has now officially completed its pullout, it is essential that it continues to aid in humanitarian assistance alongside other world powers. Getting people out of the country is only the first step, as now many nations will be facing refugee crises given the large number of Afghan people trying to escape.

The U.S. should work with the United Nations to aid in refugee resettlement and accept as many refugees within its own borders as possible, given the role it played in creating the chaos. Realists believe every country prioritizes its own survival over that of all others, which is exactly what United States has done in Afghanistan. In neglecting to consider and protect non-U.S. citizens despite foreknowledge of potential damage, U.S.A. has failed to live up to its role as an international leader and can no longer be considered that blameless “city on a hill.”

Sydney Stewart