US, Afghanistan: a history


At this point, almost everyone has heard about the United States removing troops from Afghanistan. But why were they there to begin with? 

It started with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

When the attacks happened, U.S. officials pinned Osama bin Laden, the leader of Islamic terrorist group al-Qaida, as the prime suspect in the attacks. He was believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. 

At the time, the Taliban, an Islamic political and religious military organization formed in Afghanistan,  was in control of the country. Therefore the U.S. demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden. 

The Taliban refused to answer to the demands, so the United States and British forces launched airstrikes against Afghanistan and bombed Taliban targets and bases belonging to al-Qaida, according to PBS News. 

That’s when American troops first entered Afghanistan. 

According to the New York Times, in December 2001, American troops toppled the Taliban government. 

Soon after, Hamid Karzai was sworn in as the interim leader of the Afghan government. American troops remained there to try to rebuild the country. 

However, the Taliban was only growing stronger in numbers and power. The U.S. military remained in the country despite plans to remove more troops with each American presidency.  

In February 2020, former President Trump announced a deal with the Taliban that said the U.S. would be out of Afghanistan in 14 months. In exchange, the Taliban would not let Afghanistan become a haven for terrorists, according to MSNBC. 

Once President Biden came into office, he had to withdraw troops to maintain the deal. 

He pushed back the original date of the deal from May to Aug. 31. 

However, Biden said he was bound to the deal, which set the stage for chaos to ensue in Afghanistan. 

Removing troops from Afghanistan became the center of controversy in America. 

Many Americans have pushed for the U.S. to pull troops out of Afghanistan for 20 years. However, now that it has happened, many people are on the fence about the decision. 

Ann Smith, a senior political science major, said she can understand both why we should and shouldn’t have pulled out.

“I personally do feel it was time to pull the troops out of Afghanistan […], however, it could have been done in a better way,” Smith said. “I also feel like they should not have left […] because the Taliban was still active.”

Once the U.S. began to pull out troops, it was only a matter of time before the Taliban took back control of Afghanistan. 

On Aug. 15, that happened. The Taliban took over Kabul—Afghanistan’s capital—and took control of Afghanistan as their government collapsed. 

Despite the Taliban taking over, President Biden stuck with the plan of withdrawing American troops by Aug. 31. 

This plan came with backlash. 

Madison Hernandez, a senior political science major, agreed with the plan to get troops out of Afghanistan, but said maintaining the goal of Aug. 31 is dangerous. 

“Our troops should stay until all American citizens have made it out of Afghanistan,” Hernandez said. 

Two suicide bombings occurred Aug. 26 outside the Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans were trying to flee the country. 

Those two attacks killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops, making it the deadliest day for American troops in Afghanistan since 2011, according to PBS. 

Despite the two attacks, Biden still does not plan to push back the withdrawal date. 

Hernandez feels the most important thing to do right now is to get American troops and American allies out of Afghanistan. 

“After the bombing in Kabul, we must recognize that we are no longer welcome, get our citizens and aid our ally nations in getting their citizens out of the country, and then stay out of further disputes,” Hernandez said.