Yesterday marked the 12 year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. Americans have grown weary of the drawn-out conflict’s undefined goals and increasingly unsustainable financial costs. According to a CBS News poll, support for the war in Afghanistan plummeted last year to its lowest with only 1 in 4 Americans agreeing that the United States is doing the right thing. President Barack Obama responded to this political reality when he announced last February that “by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.” But will there really be an end to the Afghanistan war?
There were three ends to the war in Iraq: The first was in May 2003, when President George W. Bush announced, “Mission accomplished,” in an infamous speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln just two months after the invasion of Iraq. The second was in September 2010, when “combat troops” silently crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait, an event Obama’s MSNBC boosters were breathlessly proclaimed as the triumphant “End of the Iraq War.” The third was in December 2011, when the Iraqi parliament refused to grant further immunity to U.S. troops beyond 2011, finally forcing to U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Iraq. If Iraq had three “end of wars,” how many will there be in Afghanistan? According to the Washington Post, a few thousand U.S. combat troops will likely remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to train and advise security forces. Despite this promise by Obama of the war’s end, American presence in Afghanistan will merely add to the grim death toll after 2014.
According to Los Angeles Times, an American service member was killed last week in an “insider attack” — incidents where Afghan allies attack the U.S. troops who train them. This recent event follows another from the weekend before in which three U.S. troops were killed. According to NATO, in 2011 and 2012, 97 coalition members were killed by their Afghan counterparts in these insider attacks. Even as the United States shifts its role from combat to advisory and training, deaths from insider attacks will most likely continue. Taliban leaders, including Mullah Muhammad Omar, have urged their sympathizers and members to continue to infiltrate the security forces and kill American trainers and Afghan trainees.
Bob Dreyfuss wrote in The Nation that military commanders believe in an “insurgent math” — that is, for every civilian the U.S. military kills, 20 insurgents take their place. Approximately 6,841 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the Afghanistan war. Using this “insurgent math,” that would mean the U.S. military has created more than 120,000 insurgents who continue to threaten the lives of U.S. troops and Afghans loyal to the Karzai regime. These newly created insurgents have empowered the Taliban as evidenced by a recent article by the Associated Press, which reported that Taliban fighters have started an insurgent campaign of regaining lost territories as foreign troops depart. After 12 long years, $600 billion spent, more than 2,000 military deaths, 6,000 civilian deaths and tens of thousands of lives irrevocably altered, when will Americans muster the political will and courage to end America’s longest war? Renaming the war is not progress, it is not peace and it will certainly not stop American deaths.
Jayel Aheram is a junior majoring in political science. He is also an Iraq War and Marine veteran.
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