How much longer should the United States stay in Afghanistan? That is a question many people have been asking both the Bush and Obama administrations for years. It seems like every year we hear the White House give a time frame of how much longer US troops will remain in Afghanistan, but the following year they retract their previous statement and come up with a new arbitrary time frame. It appears this year, the Obama administration is once again extending the time frame they foresee US involvement in Afghanistan, stating the military would remain there well past 2014. The executive branch’s annual time frame extension of our presence in Afghanistan is trending into a never ending cycle.
On June 7th, 2010, the War in Afghanistan had become the longest war in US history, reaching 104 months in length at that point in time. This 104 month period exceeded the time frame of the Vietnam War which lasted 103 months in total, and until that point was the longest war in US history. 9 months have passed since June, and the war has reached almost 9 ½ years in length. Considering our involvement in Afghanistan has reached such a lengthy period of time, the Obama administration should be working as hard as they can to assure the US withdraw forces from Afghanistan as soon as possible, and not prolong the war’s end past 2014 as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently stated the US will do.
The reason the United States decided to attack Afghanistan in 2001 was to remove the Taliban from power after the September 11th attacks since the Taliban was a known supporter of Al Qaeda. This objective was completed very quickly, with every major Taliban controlled city falling after a few months of US occupation. Although the main objective of the war had been successful for the US by early 2002, the Bush administration insisted we remain in Afghanistan to assure the Taliban would not come back to power and that the region would become stable. 9 years later, US and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan for those exact same reasons.
In the almost 9 ½ year period the United States has been involved in Afghanistan, 1,495 US troops have been killed and over a trillion dollars has been spent. The stability of the region has not been getting progressively better as the White House and Pentagon have anticipated, and the Afghan people are getting sick and tired of the United States’ presence. The Afghan people and government are especially angry at the US right now for a NATO bombing last week that killed 9 young boys who were out collecting firewood, mistaking them as insurgents. The US, NATO and people of Afghanistan can no longer afford to keep this occupation going. This war cannot keep going until after 2014, nor should it ever have lasted as long as it has. The only sensible thing the US can do at this point in time is end the war in Afghanistan now, or this trend will continue for many administrations to come.