Biden administration withdraws Afghanistan troops


Creative Commons Photo by DVIDSHUB

U.S. Air Force member stationed in Afghanistan relaxes with his K-9 partner. As a result of the Taliban’s uprising after U.S. withdrawal on Aug. 30, troops are being deployed again.

Abby Thibodeau, Layout Editor-in-Chief

On Aug. 30,  the last U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan boarded a plane back to the United States in compliance with executive orders from the Biden administration. While troops exited, the Taliban overthrew the Afghan government and attacked the Kabul Airport. They took control of previous U.S. military bases in the region and gained access to equipment and intel. This mess was created by Biden’s rushed withdrawal.

While the majority of U.S./Afghan relations began after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, issues regarding the Taliban started during the Cold War. The U.S. and the Soviet Union fought for control of Afghanistan through investments in infrastructure, followed by military intervention. In the late 1980s when both nations left, Afghanistan fell into civil war. This conflict allowed the Taliban to rise and led up to the events of 9/11.

“When the Taliban came into power, they were a definite threat, not just in their political values and their extremist ideology, and their completely awful human rights record about women, education and freedoms, but they harbored terrorists,” social studies teacher Matthew Bergquist explained.

On Sep. 11, 2001 the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were attacked with passenger planes hijacked by the Taliban. This killed roughly 3,000 civilians and 343 New York City firemen. As a result, former President George W. Bush signed a congressional resolution that authorized the use of force against those who had attacked the United States, which began the man hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the United States occupation that lasted nearly 20 years.

Similar to the experience of many adults, “I think it shifted a lot of people’s thinking because it made us feel more connected, but also more threatened by the world. We need to do more to support things we care about. People we care about. Our rights and freedoms we care about,” Bergquist added.

While the original goal of U.S. involvement was achieved on May 2, 2011 when Osama Bin Laden was assassinated, occupation continued indefinitely prior to former President Donald Trump’s negotiations with the Taliban. Trump’s agreement said the Taliban were to sever ties with Al Qaeda in exchange for the freedom of several thousand of their members and the withdrawal of U.S. troops. 

“They [Afghanistan] weren’t exactly appreciative of what we were doing, meanwhile we’re losing our civilians and soldiers. We shouldn’t have been fighting a war where we weren’t wanted,” senior Trent Tillett said.

Despite the Taliban suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Aug. 26 that killed 13 U.S. Marines, Biden stood by his decision to withdraw all troops by Aug. 31. He received criticism for the rushed evacuation that left $85 billion of equipment, over 2,000 U.S. citizens, and information stored in embassies around Afghanistan.

Sophomore Mikayla Tierney explained that a clear evacuation plan prior to the withdrawal of troops was crucial to the safety of U.S. citizens. She added that she disagrees with Biden’s decision to remove troops in the midst of a Taliban uprising.

At the latest press conference, an estimated 200 citizens intended to leave, but remained in Afghanistan. The State Department contacted these individuals while the Biden administration negotiated with Taliban leaders. Due to the current situation, Afghan financial aid was withheld, which left the country without a significant source of income.

“We should not leave anyone in Afghanistan, especially in a country like it is right now it’s war torn…we do not leave anyone regardless of death or injury,” Tillett said.

Although Biden’s attempt to withdraw U.S. troops was turbulent, some argue that he did his best given the situation. However, between the time he entered office to Trump’s original deadline of May 1, 2021, Biden had plenty of time to execute this removal in a less destructive manner. In addition, Biden extended the time limit until Aug. 31, and was unable to do so without the collapse of the Afghan government. Unfortunately, the United States lost the bases it held prior to the 9/11 terror attack, as well as vital equipment, which complicated future affairs.

“America unfortunately has historical amnesia…people need to look more at history, look at Vietnam. I think a lot more Americans would have a better perspective on what leaving an occupation looks like,” Bergquist said.