Afghanistan: A Lost War That Should Never Have Been Fought
Lindsey German: Don’t expect any honest accounting from the 21st century warriors who have laid waste to the country
The war in Afghanistan began nearly 19 years ago when George Bush and Tony Blair made the decision to invade and occupy the country. They told us it would be all over by Christmas in 2001, and indeed in its first stage the Taliban government was defeated and driven out. But the war endured, with deaths at least in the tens of thousands. The US Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2017 that the war had cost $2.4 trillion.
Despite many declarations that the Taliban had been defeated, this was simply not true. Now the US has had to sign a peace deal which includes withdrawing 3,400 troops out of 12,000 and closing five bases by July. Remaining troops will be withdrawn by May next year.
The Afghan government will release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces held by the Taliban. In return the Taliban will prevent groups such as al-Qaeda from using Afghan soil to threaten the US and its allies. The Taliban and the Afghan government will start negotiating a comprehensive ceasefire in March.
The peace deal between the Taliban and the US signed in Doha at the weekend points to the end of the war and the withdrawal of US troops by next year. It is welcome if it holds – although Obama also promised to withdraw troops - but highlights why this war should never have been waged.
Bush and Blair bombed, invaded and occupied one of the poorest countries on earth back in 2001, in revenge for the attacks of 9/11. The architect of those attacks, Osama bin Laden, was based in Afghanistan. The Taliban government was rapidly overthrown and fled, but while in office had offered to hand over bin Laden for trial. This was refused by the US and its allies who wanted war, and this war was the prelude to Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of deaths later, the country even more devasted by war, with a record of corrupt government, lip service to women’s rights and increased bombing of civilians under Trump, the US has effectively admitted defeat.
The anti-war movement told them it would end in disaster 19 years ago. But don’t expect any honest accounting from the 21st century warriors who have laid waste to the country and to the Middle East. The war has come at huge cost to the Afghan people. In addition, 456 British troops died up to 2015. What a waste of human lives and resources. We should remember this next time we are coerced into supporting ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the military.