The date was October 7th 2001 (date courtesy of history.com), major United States cities of New York and Washington were still paralyzed with despondency less than a month after the worst terrorist attacks ever on American soil.
The Bush administration along with an impressive coalition including: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and even support from surprising new “allies” Russia and Iran( www.nato.int) invaded the Taliban/Al Qaeda despotic regime that were responsible for carrying out the attacks.
The US senate amazingly, with the ability of hindsight, voted 98-0 in favor of what was unfortunately titled, when looking forward, Operation Enduring Freedom( stats courtesy of www.senate.gov). The amount of support from not only congress and the overwhelming majority of the American populace but also internationally, gave the initial Afghan invasion an extremely high chance of being successful.
Most military pundits at the time, figured the battle against the Taliban and remnants of Al Qaeda would be a cakewalk if the US were able to use conventional warfare. But most strategists knew that defeating the Taliban, Mujahideen and Al Qaeda, wouldn’t be so simple. Their staunch resistance against the Soviet invasion ( December 1979 to February 1989) was such a catastrophe it helped lead to fall of the USSR shortly thereafter( dates courtesy theatlantic.com).
The initial overthrow of the Taliban regime was completed by December 7 2001 ( date courtesy of usnews.com) which was seen as a resounding success. Of course that certainly wasn’t the last the US led coalition would see of the Taliban. The organized insurgency, under the leadership of Mullah Omar, began in earnest in 2003. Of course, the beginning of the disastrous Iraq War, robbed the US military in Afghanistan of much needed resources, troops and logistics to support the newly installed puppet government against the insurgents. In 2006 especially, the Taliban increasingly used guerilla tactics, IED’s ( improvised explosive devices), and massacres of any civilians known to be American supporters.
The U.S. occupation and endless battles against remnants of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other radical Jihadists continued to meander along until May 2, 2011( date courtesy of Britannica.com). On that day, the US. Navy SEAL team 6 stormed a heavily guarded compound in a fairly dense populated suburb of Abbottabad, Pakistan. Inside was the most wanted international terrorist and 9-11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden, along with several of his wives and other family members.
A member of the SEAL team 6 chased Bin Laden into an upstairs bedroom and nearly decapitated him with a machine gun round ( info courtesy of aljazeera.com). Some controversy on how the raid went down followed, including complaints from Amnesty international, certain independent media sources and some members of the United Nations, but the killing of Bin Laden gave the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan a much needed morale boost.
Barack Obama made a memorable speech at 11:35 pm on the evening of the event. Obama with his typical swagger, stepped up to the microphone and gave one of his many slick speeches celebrating the killing of Bin Laden. Celebrations in the United States and other countries ensued. And it seemed the finish line of the US time in Afghanistan could finally be on the horizon. Sadly, for many reasons, that finish line never came.
The war would continue for another decade, the casualty numbers for the Taliban would end at 61,000 though those numbers are surely not accurate. Civilian casualties were over 200,000 by 2020 but many international agencies feel those estimations are far lower than the actual amount may be. The United States 2,420 deaths might seem like a small number, but when you realize the death toll compared with the complete waste of time this war turned out to be those numbers seem all the more significant ( stats courtesy of watson.brown.edu).
In February of 2020 a peace deal was tentatively reached after a stop and start negotiation process between the U.S. and Taliban in Doha, Qatar ( info courtesy of washingtonpost.com). It seemed the Trump administration was on the precipitous of ending one of the longest military blunders in American history.
No one is quite sure what Trump’s real motivation was in his efforts to get US out of Afghanistan.
Perhaps, it was Vladimir Putin and his seemingly endless amount of influence on Trump’s decision making.
Could it have been he really just wanted to achieve peace in Afghanistan to show up his predecessor Barack Obama’s failure to end the war?
Whatever his reasoning, his attempts were futile and the war continued, 2,500 troops remained in and around Kabul into the beginning of Joe Biden’s presidency.
What we have now is a fiasco of epic proportions.
A war cost hundreds of thousands of deaths, mostly civilians,including many women and children.
The Taliban’s own version of blitzkrieg has turned the decision to vacate Afghanistan of all US troops to be a monumental miscalculation.
The fear amongst many Afghan civilians and despondency of much of the female populace can be felt around the world. On August 15th Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the capital to the United Arab Emirates for fears of capture by Taliban militants ( date courtesy of apnews.com).
The embarrassment of the US backed Afghan President being forced into exile just days after the US troops were shipped out is palpable.
The complete failure of the US invasion/occupation in Afghanistan will linger for many years after the final boot is off the ground and the final bombs are dropped.
When the last international journalist is expelled, what will the Afghanistan we left in tatters become with a Taliban Regime V2 ?
Will international terrorists flock to Afghanistan like it did before?
Will woman’s rights be pushed 1000 years in reverse after making considerable gains over the last three years?
Will the United States or any other foreign power dare set foot across these borders again?
These questions have to now be answered only by the Afghani people.
No longer will the United States giant foreign hands play a role in the future of this broken country, certainly not in the foreseeable future.
A country so many helped to break, yet none came close in repairing the damage.
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