US Exit from Afghanistan

US Exit from Afghanistan

The American exit from Afghanistan was quite dilemmatic, and it elicited varied reactions. Some people think that it was justified for the US to leave Afghanistan because thousands of Americans’ lives were lost there. Leaving would also grant the country sovereign power to run its affairs as it wished without interference by the US. On the other hand, some people hold that exiting from Afghanistan was inappropriate since it would cause an urgent humanitarian crisis after the Taliban took control. The rapid takeover of Kabul by the Taliban meant that the situation would worsen, causing more wars and suffering in the country. Although the occupation of Afghanistan by the US was targeted at fighting against terrorism and restoring peace in the region, it was compromised by the American imperialistic tendencies that embraced militarism rather than diplomatic strategies for conflict resolution.

Explanation of US Exit from Afghanistan

The United States invaded Afghanistan shortly after the 9/11 terrorist that left several Americans dead. Taliban leaders ignored President Bush’s request to apprehend Al-Qaeda leaders who claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attack. Following the dismissal of his request, President Bush declared that American forces would occupy Afghanistan to fight against Al-Qaeda, a Taliban allied terrorist group (Raymond, 2021). American troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and overthrew the Taliban government, and crushed its army. The invasion compelled Osama bin Laden, the then leader of Al Qaeda, to run to Pakistan for safety (Zucchino, 2021). US forces did not pursue him since they were concerned with disrupting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan since the country had become the center for organizing and coordinating terrorist attacks.

After toppling the Taliban, the United States, in collaboration with NATO, started rebuilding Afghanistan by introducing a western-like democracy and government. The US spent billions of dollars to reconstruct a country that incessant wars had ravaged. A pro-western government was introduced, which constructed new hospitals, schools, and public facilities that would improve the general life of the Afghanistan people (Zucchino, 2021). Girls and women who were previously denied education under the Taliban regime could now access education. This caused a significant shift in the role and status of women from domestics to people who can work and take leadership roles in the country (Saxena, 2021). The pro-western democracy also facilitated the development of independent news media. Generally, the new government changed several aspects of life and democracy in Afghanistan.

After killing Osama bin Laden in 2011, President Obama wanted to bring soldiers home and hand over power to the Afghanistan government. However, this did not happen because Al Qaeda, with the help of the Taliban, continued rebuilding its fighting capability even with the presence of American troops in the country (Zeweri, 2021). Afghanistan’s government forces had to surrender because they were too weak for Taliban forces. Following such incidences, President Donald Trump noted that peace could not be achieved through war. President Trump signed a peace agreement with the Taliban stating that American forces would leave Afghanistan by 1st May 2021, provided that the Taliban would cut ties with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups (Zucchino, 2021). Thus, peace negotiations were perceived to be more effective in improving the situation in the region since military conquests had failed for over 20 years.  

With regard to Trump’s agreement with the Taliban, President Biden ordered American troops to leave Afghanistan by 30th August 2021.  The primary objective of this agreement was to facilitate negotiation between the Taliban and the Afghanistan leaders to create a new government, constitution, reduce violence, and cease-fire (Zucchino, 2020). Thus, the US military forces left Afghanistan on 30th August 2021, leaving the country at the hands of the Taliban. That way, the 20 year-long American peace-keeping mission in Afghanistan came to a tragic and chaotic end this year, evoking severe reactions and emotions among different people.

Connection to Something Discussed in Class

The occupation of Afghanistan by America was, to a greater extent, imperialistic than peace-keeping. American pursued the Middle East because of the enormous oil reserves in the region, which provided a greater financial opportunity for US oil companies. Although Afghanistan did not have oil resources, it allowed America to spread its footprint in the Persian Gulf (Cleveland & Bunton, 2018). This would enable the US to stay closer to or interact with the top global oil producers such as Saud Arabia. It was a significant move for America since it would have established closer and stronger ties with the Middle East’s oil-producing countries than its rivalries, such as China, Russia, and Britain (Dabashi, 2021). The peace-keeping mission in Afghanistan gave the US access to the Middle East region for trade opportunities.

Besides, the conflict between the US and Al Qaeda that led to the occupation of Afghanistan by US troops is grounded on imperialism. America was attacked for supporting its allies such as Israel against Islamic states such as Iraq. The presence of US soldiers in Saud Arabia after the Persian also provoked Al Qaeda to attack the US in 2001 (Blanchard, 2007). Therefore, the 9/11 attack and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan can significantly be attributed to the conflicts caused by western imperialism in the Middle East. Al Qaeda launched terrorist attacks on America because they felt that the US was already controlling a significant part of the Middle East. Such attacks, especially 9/11, led to the invasion of Afghanistan.

America wanted to expand its territory and influence to a significant part Middle East through military conquest.

            American militarism contradicted its emphasis on security in the Persian Gulf and demonstrated capitalism. President Bush declared “war on terror” and advocated for military conquests to secure and expand supplies in the oil-rich Persian Gulf US militants in Afghanistan (Jones, 2012). Had this mission been primarily for peace-keeping, there would be fewer deaths and casualties in Afghanistan and the Middle East in general. Diplomatic strategies such as peace negotiations would have been adopted a long time ago.

What Should Happen

Future peace-keeping missions should be guided by operational realism. Daniel Fried explains operational realism as knowing what can or cannot work in a specific situation (Atlantic Experts, 2021). The 20-year peace-keeping mission and war against terrorism bore no fruits regardless of the huge cost involved. Militarism could not help since both sides of the war had almost equal powers and could fight forever. US spent trillions of dollars to fund the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, where more than 2000 US troops and 100,000 civilians lost their lives from 2001 to 2021 (Ryan, DeYoung, & George, 2021). Upon critical analysis of the US exit from Afghanistan, it is quite clear that war cannot be solved through war or terror with terror. President Trump and Biden learned this and decided to quit the mission.

Moreover, future exits should have post-exit strategies that could help maintain law and order in the region. US exit from Afghanistan caused more dilemmas due to a lack of post-exit strategy. Although it was appropriate to leave and give Afghanistan some form of sovereignty, the citizens were left at a greater risk because no one knew what the Taliban would do (Zeweri, 2021). Taliban could harass or kill people who were supporting or associating with the US. Therefore, a reliable exit plan would ensure that the citizens and vulnerable populations do not suffer after the exit.

Conclusively, the US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan after realizing that fighting against terrorism was not successful since there were constant attacks. President Donald Trump and Biden decided to sign agreements to exit US troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban stopped attacking the US and its allies. This issue relates to the concept we covered in class about imperialism in the Middle East. America was initially interested in the Middle East, mainly Saud Arabia, because of the oil. Al Qaeda attacked the US for exploiting the Middle East. In turn, the US decided to take revenge against Al Qaeda by occupying Afghanistan. Other than peace-keeping and fighting terrorism, being in Afghanistan enabled the US to gain a significant footprint in the Middle East and exploit the oil business. Notably, militarism does not work in all situations in all peace-keeping cases. Therefore, proper conflict resolution strategies like diplomatic negotiations should be used in future counter-terrorism and peace-keeping missions. Again, effective post-exit strategies should also be adopted to safeguard the welfare and rights of the people are risk of being assaulted, oppressed, or killed. 


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Dabashi, H. (2021). The new and improved Taliban: The parting US gift to Afghanistan.

Jones, T. C. (2012). America, oil, and war in the Middle East. The Journal of American

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Raymond, T. (2021). A Discursive Analysis of President George W. Bush’s Afghanistan Policy:

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Ryan, M., DeYoung, K., & George, S.  (2021). With clock ticking before exit deadline, US.

appears poised to postpone troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Washington Post.

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Zucchino, D. (2021). The US War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended.

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