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The Afghan wars an example of the United States led war against terror campaign. The United States together with its allies invaded Afghanistan after the attacks of September 11 with the objectives of destroying the Al-Qaeda organization, ousting the Taliban regime and establishing a democratic Afghan state (President Bush Releases National Strategy for Combating Terrorism).
Al-Qaeda, a group based in Afghanistan and operated in alliance with the then ruling Taliban regime, was identified as the one responsible for the attacks. The United States demanded the arrest of Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda leader, from the Taliban government but the latter would not do so without hard evidences (Vogt).
This started the military mobilization and attacks of the United States and its allies on October 7, 2001 (Wintour, Ahmed, Vulliamy and Taylor) until the Taliban regime was abolished and the democratic Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was established. The United States should continue their military presence in Afghanistan because Taliban-led uprisings against the young democratic government continue to increase (nato.int).
Although the US war in Afghanistan has lasted a decade already and is still continues as we speak, the United States of America together with its allies should still persist because the Afghan government needs their help in stabilizing the young democratic regime of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan amidst threats of Taliban forces and also the presence of democratic powers also helps in the improvement of human rights conditions of country.
Pro: Argument in Continuing the War
After weeks of massive military bombing and fighting, the Taliban government was ousted from authority in Kabul and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a democratic regime, was established under the leadership of Hamid Karzai but it did not take long for Taliban forces to start turmoil by leading revolutionary campaigns against the democratic government (Gall).
Afghan civilians were the prominent targets of terrorist attacks in Taliban-led insurgent activities. The United Nations reported that about 85% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan were caused by Taliban groups (Michaels).
Amnesty International pointed out that Taliban activities such as the murdering of teachers, kidnapping aid workers and setting fire on school buildings are considered war crimes. About 735 civilians were killed in 2006 alone by Taliban bombs carried out by suicide attackers or planted along roads (Taliban attack civilians to spread fear: Amnesty).
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIGRC) agrees with the Amnesty International in considering Taliban terrorism against Afghan civilian populations as war crimes while Islamic religious leaders condemned Taliban terrorist attacks referring to them as malpractices of Islamic ethics (AIHRC Calls Civilian Deaths War Crime). US military presence is highly significant in the stabilization of democracy in Afghanistan.
The growing number of insurgent activities of Taliban-led groups post as threats to the current democratic government which have inferior military strength compared to those of the Taliban. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s military force is still very young in terms of military training and weaponry thus US forces help protect the democratic regime of the country by serving as its armed division against Taliban aggressions.
The continuous presence of the US army defends the young government’s existence by protecting it from Taliban-led activities that may cost the fall out of the government. The intervention of the United States government greatly contributed to the new Afghan government’s construction of democratic policies and structures which improved the country’s political, social and economic sectors such as in the flied of health, education, transportation, agriculture and construction.
With close association of Afghanistan to the United States, its government would greatly improve in its democratic process and friendship will be nourished thus improving its foreign policies and relations which may attract more aid and even investors once turmoil in the country is settled.
According to the Human Rights Watch, there have been multiple abuses and violations of human rights in Afghanistan with the resurgence of Taliban forces which threatens the safety and welfare of Afghan citizens (Incitement of Violence against Hazaras by Governor Niazi).
Human rights abuses and violations against women in Afghanistan were prominent during the Taliban regime from September 1996 until 2001 when the US attacked the country (Hayes, Brunner and Rowen).
In a report published by the United Nations, the Taliban government conducted about 15 regular massacres in 1996 to 2001 against civilians when they were trying to secure control over the northern and western parts of Afghanistan especially targeting people whose religious beliefs are that of Shia or people of Hazara ethic background (Afghanistan: Situation in, or around, Aqcha (Jawzjan province) including predominant tribal. Ethnic group and who is currently in control).
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In 1998 when Mazar-i-Sharif was invaded and captured by the Taliban, about 4,000 civilians were executed and tortured with the help of Arab and Pakistani troops in the mass-killings of Afghan civilians where many were skinned (Afghanistan: Bush, Karzai, Musharraf Must Act Now to Stop Militant Abuses).
Another concern is the violation of Afghan women and girls’ human rights were the victims suffer from physical and sexual violence, discrimination in the society and little or no access to justice and education (Afghanistan: Bush, Karzai, Musharraf Must Act Now to Stop Militant Abuses).
According to UNICEF, about 80% of the female population lack contact to educational centers with only 10% of the population is literate. Afghan civilians were used by the Taliban as human shield in their conflicts with the US and NATO. In 2009 when NATO air strikes in Farah, around 150 civilians were forced into buildings to be targets. According to US Lieutenant Colonel Greg Julian on Taliban’s tactics, “This was a deliberate plan by the Taliban to create a civilian casualty crisis.
These were not human shields; these were human sacrifices. We have intelligence that points to this” (Gertz). Taliban power brings about human rights threats to civilians (Afghanistan: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices). The United States must continue to fight the war in Afghanistan to eradicate the growing Taliban power so that the current democratic government will persist.
With democratic background, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will be a supporter of human rights, serving for the people in looking after the civilians’ safety and well-being and with its alliance with democratic powers it will continue to promote human rights in the country of Afghanistan.
Con: Costs and Criticism
The war in Afghanistan was first initiated by President George Bush on the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks but it was continued by his successor President Barack Obama. In 2009 President Obama supported the war in that he announced to deploy an additional of 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan but he scheduled a withdraw date for the year 2014 considering the toll the war had brought about to the United States (Obama details Afghan war plan, troop increases).
The cost of war has been a major factor of debate among the US congress. The US Defense Department’s expenditure increased by 50% from $4.4 billion to $6.7 billion a month with troop strength also increasing from 44,000 to 84,000 and by 2011 it is expected to grow by 102,000, also operational costs in 2010 alone is almost as big as the spending from 2001 to 2006 combined at $93.8 billion and in 2011 the anticipated cost is expected to reach $468 billion in total (Cooper).
Cost of war including military operations, security, reconstruction, air, embassy costs and war veteran’s healthcare from 2001 to 2011 is estimated to reach $1.283 trillion. Studies show that if the military budget for 2012 would be approved, around $1.415 trillion will be spent on the war alone and if the number of men deployed will be decreased to 45,000 by 2015 until 2021, the total expenditure would amount to $1.8 trillion in the 20 years the US has fought in the war against terror on Afghanistan alone (Wihbey).
The cost of war is too much for the US economy. War debt from World War II has greatly affected the economy in that generations still continue to pay the bill. Also with the large amount of money used in funding war against terror complications arise with the coordination of fiscal and monetary policy.
Relating to the Vietnam War which resulted in the Great Inflation of the 19702 and early 1980s because defence and social program spending increased which put pressure for the demands of goods and services while monetary policy became accommodative, the current spending on the Afghan war must require monetary policy makers to carefully analyze such actions to avoid increasing inflation rates (Poole).
The initiation of the United States in invading Iraq in October 7, 2001 has been controversial because of the debate whether the attack on September 11 was considered a war against a state or that against an organization. Critics maintain that with open-ended goals of the United States’ on “War on Terror” may give way to perpetual war because such grey area may produce unending conflicts with terrorist groups arising indefinitely (Richissin).
Also the inefficiency and difficulty in defining “War on Terror” lead to criticisms from a number of experts on security, public figures such as politicians and diverse organizations which claimed that it is counterproductive because of its consolidation of conflict to the United States government, helped terrorist organizations recruit and for some believed that it increased the likelihood of the United States and its allies of being attacked for it had bread hatred towards them. RAND Corporation conducted a study on eradicating terrorist groups and found out that
“by far the most effective strategy against religious groups has been the use of local police and intelligence services, which were responsible for the end of 73 percent of terrorist groups since 1968. The US military should generally resist being drawn into combat operations in Muslim countries where its presence is likely to increase terrorist recruitment and by moving away from military references would indicate that there was no battlefield solution to countering terrorism” (Jones).
The declaration of war against terror by the United States of America and its allies in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks had given rise to mix feelings from the international system and the public alike. The question on whether the US should continue its presence in the Afghanistan soil remains a controversial debate in global politics especially since it has already been a decade since US military presence existed.
Critics claim that cost of war, given that the withdrawal of US troops is still unknown, is too much for the US economy as the spending continues to grow. Although a democratic government was successfully established in 2001 when the Taliban regime, which supported Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda, was ousted, still threats of Taliban-led attacks continue to take place making the young regime instable.
The US military is needed in Afghanistan because it provides security in protecting the Afghan citizens from terrorist attacks and helps stabilize the present government. To withdraw military troops when things are not as stable as it seems may defeat the whole purpose and efforts of US troops for the past years if it would only result to the re-establishment of the Taliban government.
Also critics argue that the US government should leave the Afghan conflict to be resolved by the local government because such involvement breeds hatred towards the United States and allies increasing probability of attacks and only promotes recruitment among terrorist but evaluating the strength and capabilities of the present democratic government it can be concluded that the latter is too weak compared to the enemy thus it would be likely for it to be defeated.
The continuous presence of US troops in Afghan soil may help stabilize the present government and promote the importance of human rights because during the previous regime it was found out that massive violations of torture, rape and discrimination occurred. US involvement in the war against terror in Afghanistan should continue to persist until the present government will be stabilize. By doing such, the United States and its allies are making the international system safe for everyone to live, promoting freedom and security.
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