Should America Send More Troops To Afghanistan And Try To Decisively Defeat The Taliban, Or Should America Cut Its Losses And Withdraw?
After 9/11, the Bush Administration blamed Al Qaeda for the 9/11 attacks, and blamed the Taliban government in Afghanistan for providing a base for Al Qaeda. The U.S. then invaded Afghanistan, overthrew the Taliban government, destroyed Al Qaeda training camps, helped set up and supported an elected Afghan government, and continued to fight Taliban and Al Qaeda forces.
Now, nine years later, President Obama has tripled the number of American troops in Afghanistan to 95,000, but they are spread thin in some regions, and they cannot hold on to territory. The Afghan police and army are developing very slowly. The Obama Administration warns that the Taliban are taking back territory and making a serious comeback.
Over the past nine years, thousands of American soldiers, thousands of Muslim fighters, and thousands of Afghan Muslim civilians have died in Afghanistan. America has spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan. The American public is tiring of the war in Afghanistan. Many Americans now think the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, and they don’t want to keep sending more American troops and American money to Afghanistan.
Arguments By Those Who Believe That America Should Send More Troops To Afghanistan And Try To Completely Defeat The Taliban
1. The 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa and the 9/11 attacks originated from Afghanistan. The Taliban government gave Al Qaeda a safe haven where Al Qaeda planned and prepared for these attacks. America asked the Taliban to turn Osama Bin Ladin over to America after the 1998 bombings and after 9/11, but the Taliban continued to protect Bin Ladin. America had to eliminate the Taliban government, and America must prevent the return of a Taliban government.
2. Before 9/11, the Taliban were evil oppressors or ignorant Muslims who were misinterpreting Islam to justify a power grab in Afghanistan. If America withdraws from Afghanistan, there will be a bloody civil war; the poorly-trained and undisciplined Afghan army will collapse; and then the Taliban will eventually re-establish a government that will once again oppress the Afghan people, especially women, ethnic minorities, and religious minorities. In addition, the Taliban will be in a better position to expand their control and influence into other parts of Asia. American troops must stay in Afghanistan at least until the Afghan army is strong enough to protect Afghans from the Taliban. It would be even better for Afghans if American troops stayed until Afghanistan is reconstructed, and until the establishment of an Afghan government that protects the rights of the Afghan people.
3. Without the benefit of its pre-9/11 Afghan training camps, Al Qaeda’s recent attempts to attack America have failed, because Al Qaeda has been on the run, and it has been unable to effectively plan those attacks. Due to poor planning and execution, Al Qaeda’s bombs failed to detonate during the 2009 Christmas Day plot to bomb a plane flying to Detroit, and during the 2010 plot to bomb Times Square. If America leaves without completely defeating the Taliban, the Taliban will return to power, and they will allow Al Qaeda to re-establish training camps in Afghanistan to plan more effective attacks on American cities. In light of Al Qaeda’s many grievances about American foreign policy in the Muslim world, there will be more plots targeting American cities if Al Qaeda gets breathing room. In addition, if America withdraws from Afghanistan, the Taliban and Al Qaeda will be in a better position to expand their influence in Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons.
4. America must prove to friends and enemies that it doesn’t run from a fight. America must prove to the Afghan government and others that America is a reliable ally that doesn’t abandon its friends. In order to deter future attacks, America must prove to the Taliban and Al Qaeda that no one gets away with attacking the American homeland.
5. America has not yet succeeded in Afghanistan, only because the Bush Administration did not put in the necessary resources; Iraq was a greater priority for the Bush Administration. America is fully capable of defeating the Taliban, now that the Obama Administration has made the war against the Taliban a priority.
6. America won’t be alone in this fight. The Afghan government will continue the fight against the Taliban if Afghan President Karzai is convinced that America will not abandon Afghanistan prematurely. The Pakistani government did have ties to the Afghan Taliban, but once the Pakistani Taliban began attacking Pakistan in an attempt to overthrow the Pakistani government, the Pakistani government fully allied itself with America. Pakistan cannot allow American troops onto Pakistani territory, because the Pakistani people are suspicious of American motives; but Pakistan is doing what it can, by allowing the U.S. to launch missile strikes (from un-manned Predator aircraft) onto Pakistani territory.
Arguments By Those Who Believe That America Should Cut Its Losses And Withdraw From Afghanistan
1. The 9/11 attacks did not originate from Afghanistan. They originated from the CIA or Israeli intelligence, in order to “justify” the invasions of Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, American troops should never have been in Afghanistan. Even if the 9/11 attacks did originate from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11. The Taliban hosted Al Qaeda based on the Taliban’s understanding that Al Qaeda were sincere Muslims who needed shelter. After Bin Ladin was accused of carrying out the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa, America asked the Taliban to turn Bin Ladin over to America. The Taliban said they would turn Bin Ladin over to America if America provided evidence that Bin Ladin was involved, but America provided no evidence. Regardless, the Taliban ordered Bin Ladin not to use Afghan soil to plan international attacks, and Bin Ladin agreed. At a hearing of the 9/11 Commission, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow said that Taliban leader Mullah Omar did not want Al Qaeda to attack America. (One hour and one minute into the hearing.) The Taliban were not involved in planning or carrying out the 9/11 attacks. When America asked the Taliban to turn Bin Ladin over to America after 9/11, the Taliban again said they would turn Bin Ladin over to America if America provided evidence that Bin Ladin was involved in the 9/11 attacks. America refused to provide the Taliban with any evidence, so the Taliban refused to turn Bin Ladin over to America. Therefore, the U.S. should have just attacked Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan, rather than overthrowing the Taliban government and trying to restructure the whole country.
2. Before 9/11, the Taliban were making a sincere effort to establish an Islamic state based on their understanding of Islamic law. They also brought law-and-order and security to a lawless region. Even if the Taliban were (and will again be) unpopular in Afghanistan, America should not be sacrificing the lives of American soldiers to protect Muslims from their own unpopular governments on the other side of the world. America should be spending billions of dollars to rebuild American cities, not Afghan cities. Furthermore, many Muslims around the world don’t want non-Muslim soldiers on Muslim land. American invasions of Muslim countries produce much more death and destruction than they prevent.
3. America has made a huge investment in building the 134,000-man Afghan army. It’s time for that investment to pay off. When American troops pull back, the Afghan army will keep the Taliban on the run. Furthermore, if there are no American troops in Afghanistan, fewer Afghans (like Najibullah Zazi, who pled guilty in the 2009 NYC subway plot) or Pakistanis (like Faisal Shahzad, who pled guilty in the 2010 Times Square plot) will try to attack American cities. (Both Zazi and Shahzad said they planned their attacks because of American intervention in Afghanistan.)
4. America has already proven that it will respond with severe force to an attack on the American homeland. America has already sent a clear message to its friends and enemies. There is no need for American troops to stay in Afghanistan forever.
5. It is not possible for America to defeat the Taliban. After nine years, the Taliban have proven themselves to be tough and elusive on their home turf. The Taliban fight and then melt away among the Afghan and Pakistani people. Then they strike again, and melt away again. Fighting a guerilla war, they don’t plan to beat America militarily. The Taliban are just playing a waiting game, knowing that America cannot stay in Afghanistan forever.
6. America does not have reliable partners in the region. The Afghan government wants to cut a power sharing deal with the Taliban (because Afghan President Karzai believes America is not a reliable ally). Afghan President Karzai has accused the U.S. of intentionally bombing Afghan civilian targets and falsely blaming the Taliban for those attacks. The Afghan government is not a useful ally, because it is unpopular, illegitimate (due to election fraud), corrupt, and ineffective. The Pakistani military has been fighting the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan, but Pakistani intelligence has been arming, training, and funding the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan (to ensure that the Afghan Taliban are friendly to Pakistan if the Afghan Taliban return to power in Afghanistan). The Pakistani government does not allow American troops to enter Pakistani territory to fight Afghan Taliban who are retreating from Afghanistan into Pakistan, where they regroup for new attacks against American troops in Afghanistan. European allies have said their troops will not remain in Afghanistan indefinitely.