Just after President Trump recently announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria, he reportedly is also considering plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, where the U.S. has roughly 14,000 soldiers deployed.
Make no mistake, this is wonderful news. The U.S. has maintained military a presence in the country since 2001 (not to mention the indirect involvement in the 80s when we funded the Mujahideen in their fight against the Soviets). Since 2001, we have lost an estimated 2,400 soldiers, and spent over $900 Billion.
And what have we gained? Well, we successfully killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, no doubt a success, and the original purpose of the mission. Beyond that, however, we cannot say much. We haven’t eliminated the Taliban, nor have we eliminated terror threats. We must be honest with ourselves, if we believe military intervention will eventually eradicate potential terror threats to the US, we will find ourselves in the Middle East and Africa for a long time.
This is to say, we should withdraw immediately. The presence of our troops in the Middle East, as well as the bombings and airstrikes undertaken by the US military, do little good and produce further antagonism amongst the local population. Military involvement in the Middle East undoubtedly leads to the antagonized to respond with attacks against foreign countries, as France learned in 2015. Try to understand the perspective of people who become radicalized as a result of our military intervention: our military that continues to kill civilians in “targeted” airstrikes, bombings, etc., persists in someone’s home country. Perhaps theses locals should understand that we have “just” motives, but we certainly cannot expect all to accept such motives. The point is not to ask whether such responses, is just on their part. The point is to say that such reactions are a reality that we must incorporate into our foreign policy decisions.
As far as our apparent goal in these interventions, we cannot say for sure how we can mitigate terrorism’s causes, since we do not clearly know them. One thing is certain, military intervention does little to mitigate it, so we should leave Afghanistan immediately. We can only hope the president continues to defy his “advisors” and follows through on this.