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After Seventeen Years, It’s Time to Leave Afghanistan

Rather+than+continue+fighting+in+the+war+in+Afghanistan%2C+President+Donald+Trump+should+consider+pulling+the+troops+out.+%28Courtesy+of+Flickr%29
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After Seventeen Years, It’s Time to Leave Afghanistan

Rather than continue fighting in the war in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump should consider pulling the troops out. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Rather than continue fighting in the war in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump should consider pulling the troops out. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Rather than continue fighting in the war in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump should consider pulling the troops out. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Rather than continue fighting in the war in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump should consider pulling the troops out. (Courtesy of Flickr)


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By Dane Salmon

Peace talks with the Taliban terrorist organization were recently initiated by the United States in Doha, Qatar. The goal is to broker a ceasefire between American troops in Afghanistan and the Taliban, and eventually between the Afghan government itself and the Taliban.

While these talks are certainly a significant step in the the right direction, the negotiations have reached a tough point: the Taliban will not commit to a ceasefire unless the United States agrees to a full withdrawal of troops, while the U.S. wants a withdrawal to be conditional on the ceasefire holding.

There are valid fears about a total and sudden withdrawal of troops. A total withdrawal is nothing to be feared and should be wished for, but the speed at which it takes place is crucial.

The last time the U.S. withdrew from a place troops were deployed in the Middle East was Iraq, and the power vacuum created by the lack of American presence led to the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/the Levant.

Thinking we had eradicated — or at least diminished the power of — non-state actors in Iraq, we foolishly up and left.

I will never say this was the wrong decision. Ultimately, the War in Iraq was a waste of American tax dollars, resources and lives.

Conflicts such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan hold little value to us besides attempting to enforce peace on a region which has been volatile since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, when the British and French partitioned the Middle East in the Sykes-Picot agreement.

We must withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, but in a well-rehearsed and planned manner. The goal must be to not create the same kind of power vacuum which led to the Islamic State’s expansion.

We must be deliberate but not slow, and we must leave but not simply run away. The idea behind the current talks is well-advised.

By having a round of negotiation between the United States and the Taliban, we will allow ourselves to determine the terms of our withdrawal, and after a negotiation between the Afghan government and the Taliban would allow the sovereign state the ability to do what it sees fit with the terrorist organizations occupying parts of their territory.

Provided that all goes well, this is what we need.

But what about the hardline stance taken by so many in our government that we never negotiate with terrorists in fear of legitimizing them? To them, I say that the best way to get our boys back home is the way we should take.

The time of throwing wave after wave of American troops at rocky peaks in a far-off land needs to end.

We must cease feeding the military-industrial complex its tithe of corpses. Over 2,370 dead and 20,320 wounded Americans is enough.

Some may say these casualty numbers are peanuts compared to other wars, but why should they happen in the first place? This is no grand crusade against evil as in the Second World War, a struggle for the rights of man as in the Civil War nor the birth pangs of a great nation as in the Revolution.

We are on a misguided, vaguely-defined, profit-driven mission into barren corners of the earth with no end in sight.

The Greatest Generation had the glory of vanquishing the greatest evil the world has ever known, our great-great-great grandfathers broke millions free of the shackles of slavery, and the Founding Fathers, with their army of farmers, sent the most powerful empire the world had ever known running.

Yet what do we have? Blood on the sand and a deteriorating situation in the region. Bring our troops home. It’s time.

 

Dane Salmon, FCRH ’21, is an economics and philosophy major from Coppell, Texas.

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After Seventeen Years, It’s Time to Leave Afghanistan