The War on Terror: 20 Years Too Long

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(Artwork/Ava Fong’23)

Navaneeth Rajan, Online Features Editor

America fought in Afghanistan for nearly two decades. It was the longest war in our nation’s history– a gaping scar on the already-marred fresco of American foreign policy. But after twenty years of fighting, Republicans and Democrats alike are weary of the bloodshed.

Ultimately, President Biden’s choice to bring American troops home by September 11, 2021, on the anniversary of the fateful attacks that plunged America into this war, was the right decision; but, it was also a terribly misguided one. Biden has cited his reasoning for removing troops from Afghanistan as part of a push to devote more military force to more “strategic” concerns, including the growing military prowesses of North Korea, China, and Russia. 

But, in an era where large-scale war has not been practical since the invention of the atomic bomb, and almost every nation is allied under the banner of the United Nations, why is America’s priority military domination? The United States spends $778 billion on defense annually, more than that of the next eleven nations, combined. And yet we suffer from widespread student debt and a healthcare system that leaves those it was designed to help debilitated by crippling expenses. Our police system is overworked and underfunded, and our infrastructure is pitiful when compared side-by-side with other developing nations. What our nation needs is for taxpayer money to be spent on taxpayers, not on funding our next war.

It is true that after American troops leave Afghanistan terrorist groups will swiftly take over the nation. It is true that, when America withdraws, the 2,500 American lives lost will be in vain. But that will remain true even if we remain, whether for two more years or twenty.

When America first began fighting in Afghanistan, it was to seek justice for 9/11. That was decades ago. What followed– the trillions of dollars invested, the deaths of nearly 50,000 soldiers and just as many civilians, the ravaging of peacetime infrastructure– is not justice. It is senseless violence. And while I’m glad it’s over, if we retreat from Afghanistan solely to begin our march on a new militaristic front, then we have learned nothing from this exercise in the dangers of imperialism and warmongering.

 

 

Works Cited

  • “Congressional Digest.” Congressional Digest ” Pros and Cons of Pulling Troops From Afghanistan, https://congressionaldigest.com/pros-and-cons-of-pulling-troops-from-afghanistan/. 
  • Ryan, Missy, and Karen DeYoung. “Biden Will Withdraw All U.S. Forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Aug. 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/biden-us-troop-withdrawal-afghanistan/2021/04/13/918c3cae-9beb-11eb-8a83-3bc1fa69c2e8_story.html. 
  • “U.S. Defense Spending Compared to Other Countries.” Peter G. Peterson Foundation, 9 July 2021, https://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison. 
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