By Milo Mandelli-Valla
New York City, New York
20 years ago, the largest terrorist attack in American history devastated the U.S. homeland, killing thousands of Americans and shocking the entire nation. Following these brutal events on September 11, 2001, the United States began the war on terror, which heavily focused on sending troops into The Middle East.
Today, the U.S. has spent nearly one trillion dollars and suffered thousands of casualties. This situation was reason enough for President Biden to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan, claiming “the buck stops here.”
However, the withdrawal is being seen as a catastrophe by many Americans and has left Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban, who will run their nation with Sharia laws written in the 7th century. President Biden’s approval ratings have tanked as a result, dropping from around 50% to around 43%. This may be detrimental to the Democratic party’s power in the 2022 midterm elections.
Because of the withdrawal, thirteen marines have died, hundreds of Americans have been left stranded, thousands of Afghans have been executed, and eighteen million Afghan women have lost basic human rights. Many U.S. veterans have also committed suicide. Further, 85 billion dollars worth of U.S. military resources, including hundreds of Blackhawk helicopters, have been left to the Taliban. With a surplus of guns, armor, tanks, and fighter jets, the Taliban now have a military budget that rivals Russia’s.
Some believe that Afghanistan could become a safe haven for terrorism, much like it was before 9/11 and U.S. involvement in the region, which presents a threat to American citizens and could lead to another attack reminiscent of 9/11.
Such an event could severely damage Pres. Biden’s legacy. Many Afghan citizens will live in a terrorist-run nation, and many American citizens have been left there. During the withdrawal, some Afghans were seen hanging from US planes, desperate to leave the nation. Now, girls as young as 12 are being abused by the Taliban and are being stripped of their rights. The US has now armed the Taliban with weapons more expensive than the 3rd largest army in the world. However, if the US remains unharmed and the funds from Afghanistan are reallocated to homeland security, terror attacks could be deterred to an extent, as Newt Gingrich suggested.
The question, ultimately, is whether or not the risk and cost of the withdrawal were worth the reward of putting an end to the war.