Where is the truth and justice in fighting a war that had gone on for too long? How do the American people help a country which badly needs assistance? In discussing Afghanistan, these are chief concerns. The United States has been embroiled in this conflict for 16 long years. Recently the military announced plans to send 4,000 more troops, to push back against Taliban insurgency. Our motivations for continued involvement in Afghanistan has never been more undefined. Is it a problem that the United States has a lack of public premise for continuing this war? Yes, it is costing lives, perpetuating failure, and damaging the reputation of our nation. We have spent 16 years building nothing and reaping the oil benefits, but it’s time to make a bold strategy known so that end goals can be put in place. So we can begin to untangle ourselves from the regional politics of the Middle East.
War is sometimes wrong, and it is sometimes justified. The response in Afghanistan to the events of September 11, which spurred our incursion to Afghanistan in the name of hunting Bin Laden, were largely justified. The war against Hitler’s fascist regime in Germany was justified. The crux of both of these cases were the justifications. Bin Laden took responsibility for the September 11 attacks and Hitler was behind the Holocaust—we presently have no similar-scale reason for sending a deployment this large to Afghanistan. Since the war started, nearly 3,000 U.S. Troops have been killed and over 20,000 have been injured—how can we send so many more without properly laid plans? It’s baffling to consider the consequences of not acting when so many civilians are in danger, but it would be foolish to simply send more soldiers into a conflict with no endgame.
We cannot fail again in Afghanistan. If this deployment of 4,000 more troops occurs, it must be the last. Since we have started operations in the country, things have gone from bad to worse and now the Taliban stand poised to take control of large parts of the country. This would be detrimental to the Afghan civilians, who have already paid such a large price. According to Al Jazeera, 10,000 civilians were killed and/or wounded in 2016. In that same year, the Afghan military suffered 15,000 wounded and 5000 fatalities. How can the situation have gotten so bad? For one, we’ve let outside forces supply the Taliban with arms and armaments. Perhaps an increased presence would help combat that but Secretary of Defense James Mattis and President Trump must construct a plan prior to deploying thousands more men and women..
We cannot always be certain when danger lies around the corner. That’s why we take steps to make sure we’re not needlessly risking our lives. Mattis and Trump need to articulate our nation’s plan for Afghanistan involvement so that those who design the peace plans can have a chance at doing so. Afghanistan has so many problems concurrently: their military has suffered a massive blow, foreign bodies conspire to empower the Taliban, the Taliban are taking over large swatches of land, and the large country is the world’s top heroin producer. A plan needs to be developed before more troops are sent, head-on, to face one of the most complicated situations the world has known.
This editorial was written by Yazan Masad based on the opinions of a JAMS 504 editorial board.