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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,090
Sept. 2, 2021
U.S. Is Wise to Leave Afghanistan
By Mike McManus

Columnists rarely admit error. However, I believe I was mistaken in arguing in May that Biden was wrong to announce the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by August 31.

I had two concerns. First, I said the 2,500 U.S. troops were not fighting a war, but were a stabilizing force. Not one American soldier had lost his life in the previous year. Second, I expressed concern for women and girls, who were not allowed to go to school or work outside the home under Taliban rule.

I also argued that if the goal is to cut federal costs, it would be better to withdraw the 160,000 American troops in Japan and Germany, 76 years after World War II ended.

I still have those same concerns. However, I have to acknowledge that Biden did an excellent job in not only removing 2,500 U.S. troops and civilians, but also more than 120,000 Afghan civilians who had worked with Americans to translate and to stabilize the nation's economy.

President Biden asserted this week, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan, "the longest war in American history."

He asserted the war should have ended 10 years ago when the U.S. killed Osama Bin Laden, who had orchestrated the bombing of the World Trade Center in 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. That would have made sense, and saved many American troops who died in the last decade.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20-year war," the President stated.

The war cost American taxpayers $2 trillion and 2,448 servicemen lost their lives. As did more than 100,000 Afghan civilians. Nearly 800,000 American troops served in the war.

What about the future of girls and women in Afghanistan? Schools have reopened to both girls and boys, though the Taliban says they will study separately. The Taliban is no longer threatening to end the education of females. Nor is it insisting on head to toe coverings of girls and women, or banning females from leaving home without a male escort.

This is genuine progress. Let's hope the Taliban keeps its word on women and girls.

When the Taliban last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, they banned television, music and even photography. But there is no sign of that yet. TV stations are operating normally.

The Taliban is facing a massive economic problem. It will lose more than $3 billion a year if pledged international support is withdrawn. Meanwhile, the Taliban lacks access to the $9 billion in the Afghan central bank reserves, most of which is controlled by the U.S. and international institutions.

Thus, the Taliban has an incentive to treat women and girls properly, and provide amnesty to those who worked with the U.S. forces.

However, there are hardline Taliban factions who oppose the moderate leaders. The moderates cannot enforce their will on the extremists. If the moderates cannot control the extremists, foreign aid will stop and the economy could collapse.Therefore, let's hope the moderates are successful in building a healthy future for Afghanistan.

One remarkable achievement of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is the fact more than 120,000 Afghans who worked with Americans - were airlifted out of the country and now face a bright future. Americans should offer them assistance in building new lives. Their loyalty and assistance to our forces deserves the reward of receiving training and job opportunities in America.

Therefore, I here acknowledge I was wrong in saying that American troops should remain in Afghanistan.

However, I do believe it is time to bring more than 100,000 American troops home from Europe and Asia, where there has been peace for more than 75 years. It is an excellent way to cut the federal budget deficit.


Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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