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Why the U.S. Should Withdraw From Afghanistan? Essay

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Updated: Jun 23rd, 2022

Attention

On April 14, 2021, US President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. According to Biden, “with the terror threat now in many places, keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at the cost of billions each year makes little sense” (The United States Government, 2021). In addition, recent research has found that the 20-year long war in Afghanistan is not only the longest but one of the most expensive, with $2.26 trillion spent on military needs. The costs are enormous and impossible to ignore, whereas the actual results regarding terrorism prevention and safety provision are challenging to measure. In many cases, people even tend to believe that presence of US troops in Afghanistan destabilizes the fragile situation in the region instead of bringing positive change and safety.

The decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is extremely controversial as there are many who support it and there are those who strongly disagree. Significant military expenditures make the controversial issue even more complicated and ambiguous. Opposing sides bring strong arguments in favor and against troop withdrawal. I conducted my own research to evaluate advantages and disadvantages and to choose a side.

Need

According to some studies from 2009, US troop presence in Afghanistan did not lead to an improvement of living standards in the area. It is stated that by 2009 Afghanistan was in the same state as it was in 2001. Afghanistan citizens were provided with low living standards, and corrupt governments were dysfunctional and not effective, while ordinary people were systematically oppressed. US presence for a decade may not have resulted in positive change by 2009. Another decade later and trillions of United States dollars spent, the region’s social, economic, and political situation did not improve (Ward, 2021). These criteria may not appear suitable for goals persuaded during the Afghanistan war. The military operation was conducted in order to prevent further acts of terrorism. However, if making a change is not the main purpose of war in Afghanistan, and there is no concrete, achievable goal, the operation may last forever.

As already mentioned, various studies assess military expenditure related to Afghanistan to exceed $2 trillion. Big military budgets were also devoted to other post-9/11 wars, including wars in Iraq and Syria. It may not seem to be important for an ordinary citizen, yet it represents a significant item of expenditure for all taxpayers. According to “Estimated Cost to Each Taxpayer for the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” provided by the Department of Defence, such international conflicts cost a total of $7,623 per taxpayer (Crawford, 2019). Therefore, the war in Afghanistan does not only influence the economy of the United States but also has an impact on the financial health of every US citizen. Considering the fact that no visible results were achieved during the conflict, US military presence in the area becomes even more questionable.

Moreover, there are only 2500 troops in Afghanistan at the moment. It may be hard to determine if 2500 troops are able to prevent acts of terrorism and maintain stability in the region. Therefore, there are even less rational reasons to prolong their presence in the area. If the provided military force is not sufficient to make a change, it should be either reinforced or withdrawn. Finally, there already is an agreement between the US and Afghanistan concluded by Donald Trump. Violation of the agreement may lead to irreversible deterioration of relations with Afghanistan governments and particularly the Taliban.

Satisfaction

It may be necessary to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in order to end the longest war in the history of America. The decision obviously contains significant risks related to various aspects. Nevertheless, these risks may be overestimated in some cases and inevitable regardless of the decision in others. The main threat is related to terrorist activity, which may increase after the withdrawal of troops, and with no presence in the area, it may be impossible for the US to prevent the harm. Nonetheless, realistically speaking, it is hard to believe that the US military force in Afghanistan is sufficient to prevent acts of terrorism at the moment. Why would it dramatically change after withdrawal? Furthermore, as technology developed and the world transformed during the last two decades, terrorism changed too. It may not be possible to fight terrorism with the same methods as before. Digital communications are becoming more relevant, and terrorist organizations are becoming more decentralized. Consequently, the primary purpose of US presence in Afghanistan becomes even less rational.

Another significant risk is associated with possible civil war. However, US troops may not represent a deterrent against such consequences. Overall, possible risks linked to the withdrawal of troops may not be as essential as they are presented by the media.

Visualization

Can you imagine the possible positive consequences of the end of the war? Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan may contribute to the reduction of unnecessary military costs. It may allow Afghanistan to pursue its own way and provide 38 million Afghans with an opportunity to choose their future freely. Unleashed financial and military resources may be utilized to resolve more relevant international and domestic issues.

As I mentioned, the world is changing at rapid rates. Unfortunately, transformation affects not only primary aspects of everyday life but also such complicated issues as terrorist threats. Withdrawal of troops may bring broader acknowledgment of a new digital paradigm of terrorist activity. It may also provide needed financial resources to reduce the danger. There are significant social and economic domestic problems in the US. Pandemic restrictions negatively affected our society on diverse levels. By bringing an end to twenty years of relatively unsuccessful war, the government may be able to obtain more time and resources to address these domestic problems.

The decision may also positively affect Afghanistan and its citizens. Even though the withdrawal of troops may lead to destabilization and activation of opposing political forces, it may be crucial to provide Afghans with autonomy and independence after twenty years of occupation. Finally, staying in Afghanistan and violating the agreement may provoke a larger military conflict. Continuing the war will give rise to military costs and result in even more devastation and misery towards Afghanistan citizens.

Action

Biden stated that he is “the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan” and he “will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth” (The United States Government, 2021). The issue served as a cause of dispute for decades, and it, indeed, needs to be solved. Even though everyone is entitled to their opinions, it may be crucial to consider and acknowledge the opposing perspective not to let the problem divide our society. By adequately evaluating the governmental decision, we may be able to make the best use of the situation.

References

Crawford, N. C. (2019). United States budgetary costs and obligations of post-9/11 wars through FY2020: $6.4 trillion. Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University, 13.

The United States Government. (2021). The White House. Web.

Ward, A. (2021). Vox. Web.

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