Biden pulls out of Afghanistan


Illustration by Mandy Zhang.

Editorial Board

This previously ran in our September 2021 print issue.

On Aug. 31, 2021, the longest war in American history officially ended. The last American soldiers in Afghanistan have finally gone, and that’s a good thing. A 20-year-long war,  lengthier than the also-failed Vietnam conflict––with nothing to show except for thousands of deaths––has finally concluded. 

Conflict had gripped the country of Afghanistan for much longer than we were there. The fall of a socialist regime led to invasion by Soviets, intensifying the Cold War. America then funded rebel groups that fought against the USSR, including the mujahideen and Afghan Arabs, of which Osama bin Laden was a part. Our country provided them with training and weapons to fight the Soviets. This would be a fatal mistake.

After 9/11, we launched war in Afghanistan as retaliation against the Taliban for not extraditing bin Laden. The US was fighting against the same people we had been helping, the mujahideen, roughly 20 years prior. In some way, the US itself is essentially responsible for the war in Afghanistan. It only makes sense that after 20 years of fighting, we end what we started.

Furthermore, the war in Afghanistan has been one of the most costly wars in America’s history. According to the Defenselink Casualty Report, 2,401 military personnel were killed in Afghanistan, a number close to 2,977, the amount of people that died on 9/11,  and another 20,752 were injured. Brown University’s Costs of War project states that the war’s monetary cost was $2.3 trillion, taking into account interest and medical expenses for veterans. 

The facts of the matter are:

We cannot afford neither the human nor monetary cost that resulted from this war.

We cannot afford to send another generation of America’s youth into West and Central Asia to die.

We cannot continue to spend billions of dollars on war efforts when that money could be spent elsewhere.  

Aside from assassinating bin Laden, the war in Afghanistan essentially accomplished nothing. More than $131.2 billion was spent on the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s government and infrastructure, only to have the military and government we trained to fail and fall within a matter of weeks to the Taliban. For a war that spanned two decades, there is not much to show for it––except death and destruction. 

Leaving Afghanistan was the best option. While the aftermath of US troops’ absence is not ideal, continuing our presence there would have accomplished nothing. If 20 years of US military presence cannot stabilize the area, “there is no chance that one year––one more year, five more years or 20 more years––that U.S. military boots on the ground would have made any difference,” President Joe Biden says. The same outcome would likely still have occurred, except more life lost and more money spent. Life that could have been spent outside of war, money that could have been spent on the people of the United States. 

Just like Vietnam, the war in Afghanistan involved too much time, sacrificed thousands of soldiers’ lives, and accomplished practically nothing. Nothing could have prevented this outcome, which is why leaving Afghanistan was the best choice that could have been made. By removing troops from Afghanistan, Biden finally broke the cycle of unnecessary bloodshed.