Ending the war in Afghanistan: Democracy on the run

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Written by: Braden Knapp

Over the past several weeks, many people have fixed their eyes upon Afghanistan as the United States and the last of the coalition forces have switched gears from providing military and diplomatic support for the Afghan government to a total withdrawal of American influence. This poorly implemented exit plan — set in motion by the White House, Department of Defense and top brass in the U.S. military — has thrown Afghanistan into upheaval.  

By concluding our mission that way, we advertised the weakness of leadership to the world and let the Taliban make a fool of our democracy. The self-imposed August 31 deadline for U.S. forces to leave Afghanistan proved to be an impulsive exit. We should have lengthened our stay to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans before concluding our military venture. 

But instead, the speed and confusion of the removal process allowed for ISIS-K to attack the Kabul airport, resulting in the death of 13 U.S. service members and over 70 Afghans. In the great rush to exit, millions of dollars in military aircraft, vehicles and equipment were deserted. Now, in the hands of our former enemy, equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayers is aiding the Taliban’s efforts to gain control of the country. 

This sudden departure is likely to leave a humanitarian crisis in its wake, something the Biden Administration should have factored in before pulling all support. This crisis will be evident not only in Afghanistan, but also in the refugee camps of our unprepared European allies who have accepted tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers while the U.S. gets its act together. 

We cannot forget the shameful reality of the situation. We left U.S. citizens behind in Afghanistan­ — a fact Biden is unwilling to admit. His belief in the Taliban’s word to allow safe travel for documented citizens has yet to play out, but bartering with the enemy will prove to be futile.

Playing by the rules of the Taliban has been a common theme in our departure. For U.S. leadership to fix this fatal mistake, it must prove to the world that the United States will stand its ground in Afghanistan until the aforementioned factors have been addressed. 

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