Olivia Tulloch

The tragedy of American involvement in Afghanistan

The tragedies of this world never cease to disappoint me and watching the brutality in Afghanistan these past weeks has reminded me of that. In the modern century, a country should never be left to fall apart at the seams and force themselves back together. Yet, here we are. 

When President Biden announced the permanent withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, I felt a slew of mixed emotions. Like many other people I have talked to (liberal or conservative), I feel incredibly torn on this issue. Yes, most of the country is in agreement that our troops needed to be pulled out of Afghanistan, but we cannot seem to all agree on how to go about it. However, one thing remains clear: both parties are to blame for the disaster in Afghanistan.

Regardless of political affiliation, we should all concede that both Democrats and Republicans have contributed to this brutal war. This war has made its way through four U.S. presidents: Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden. Whether it’s Bush’s failed new-age Marshall Plan in 2002 or Obama’s surge of deployed troops in 2009, it is clear that the United States retaliated in a war effort it could not maintain. Therefore, regardless of which president made the decision to withdraw the troops, he or she would have been faced with extreme backlash. It just so happens that this backlash is specifically directed at President Biden.

We need to remember that the common enemy is not the Afghan citizens but the Taliban, whose brutal leaders have infected a beautiful country and ruled it with hatred and ignorance.”

For a man that has contributed to two administrations in the past 15 years, I understand and somewhat agree with the conservative mindset that Biden’s actions look illogical. Watching the President’s speech left me confused and upset as well. His depiction of the Afghan military was heartless to say the least. Characterizing Afghan soldiers as quitters who gave up “sometimes without trying to fight” is a gross misrepresentation of what the citizens of Afghanistan have been put through. As a country, I feel we need to remember that the common enemy is not the Afghan citizens but the Taliban, whose brutal leaders have infected a beautiful country and ruled it with hatred and ignorance. Regardless of how I personally feel about Biden’s presentation of this policy, I know that there were only two real options: maintaining the status quo or withdrawing completely.

As President Trump’s successor, Biden had to make the decision of continuing the ongoing policy or dismantling it entirely. And according to Trump’s most recent Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, Trump’s negotiation with the Taliban was not actually a plan to permanently withdraw U.S. troops. Instead, according to Defense One in 2021, Trump’s policy was to convince the president of Afghanistan to allow some troops in the country permanently to combat the Taliban’s terrorism. Although this timeline explains President Biden’s decision, it does not make it any less painful. As journalist Eugene Robinson points out in his Washington Post article, “If there is a graceful, orderly way to abandon involvement in a brutal, unresolved civil war on the other side of the world, please cite historical precedents. I can’t find them.” There is no way this could have ended positively for the United States and Afghanistan. So, as Robinson states, “history will see this withdrawal, painful as it is to watch, not as ignominious but as inevitable.”