A Brief History
On August 30, 2021, the United States of America suffered one of its all-time worst humiliations when the last of the American forces were flown out of Afghanistan, a country the US had invaded in 2001 and was the scene of the longest armed conflict in American history.
After the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, President Bush authorized military action in Afghanistan to strike at the terrorist bases and ultimately to deny those terrorists the safe haven of Afghanistan. Never meant to be a nation building exercise, the woeful fact of US involvement in Afghanistan was that no coherent plan of “winning” the war or an exit strategy was ever established, and the years dragged on with the US becoming an occupying force that Afghans, at least many of them, did not appreciate despite the billions and billions of dollars spent by the Americans trying to build the country in a modern way.
During the two decades of war, about 60,000 Afghan fighters died in combat, about another 46,000 Afghan civilians died, and the US lost over 2400 killed in action with another 20,000 wounded. Additionally, another 1150 soldiers allied with the US were killed in combat, and about 4000 foreign contractors also died.
In all, the so called War on Terror, mostly in Afghanistan and Iraq, cost American taxpayers $8 trillion and left an estimated 900,000 people dead. President GW Bush, who initiated the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, did not have an exit strategy, and President Obama failed to develop one of his own. President Trump never addressed the subject of pulling out US forces, and finally President Biden was left with the embarrassing debacle that accompanied the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Question for students (and subscribers): Was the US invasion of Afghanistan worth the cost? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Loyn, David. The Long War: The Inside Story of America and Afghanistan Since 9/11. St. Martin’s Press, 2021.
Malkasian, Carter. The American War in Afghanistan: A History. Oxford University Press, 2021.
The featured image in this article, a U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett, 82nd Airborne Public Affairs, of paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division preparing to board a U.S. Air Force C-17 on August 30th, 2021 at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.
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