US foreign policy must change

With+withdrawal+of+troops+from+Afghanistan%2C+US+foreign+policy+is+as+polarizing+as+ever.

Photo by Fishers N the Red staff

With withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, US foreign policy is as polarizing as ever.

    Ben Rosen is a senior and a reporter for Fishers N the Red. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. 

     The day is Oct. 7, 2001. For most people, this date does not ring a bell as one of great importance, but for some this date forever changed their lives. On this day, then President George W. Bush announced the start of air strikes in Afghanistan, the first step of the U.S. led allied invasion of the country in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with a goal of finding those responsible for planning and helping aid the execution of the attacks. 

     The invasion of Afghanistan was a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Four planes were hijacked by a total of 19 terrorists from multiple countries who flew two planes into the World Trade Center and one plane into The Pentagon with the other being brought down by passengers on board, crash landing in Shanksville, the intended target of that plane was unknown. 

     It is by far the darkest day in American history; in total, 2,977 people were killed in the attacks and in addition to that, 9/11 related cancers and illnesses caused by air pollution and chemicals that entered the air have caused many more deaths. 

     On Sept. 14, 2001, Congress passed a bill that would authorize the President to be able to use any military resources and take actions necessary to find those responsible for the attacks and bring them to justice. It passed with only one person voting against it between the two chambers and Bush would sign the bill into law a few days later on Sept. 18, 2001.

     It was a necessary move to allow immediate action, but it was very unclear on the limitations of what kind of force and how much could be used which was problematic because “necessary and appropriate force” can have so many different interpretations. That is part of the reason why Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) voted against the bill. 

     At the time of the 2001 invasion, the Taliban had ruled Afghanistan for five years. The terrorist group had ties to Al-Qaeda, a different terrorist group who had planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks. In the weeks after the invasion, the allied forces captured the Afghanistan capital of Kabul and overthrew the Taliban regime with the forces installing a new democratic government.

     Part of the goal of the invasion was finding Osama Bin Laden, a prominent planner of 9/11. It took until May 2011 to capture and kill Bin Laden, who was found hiding in Pakistan, having been almost 10 years since the invasion and then President Barack Obama had been in office for nearly two and a half years.

     Troops remained on the ground even though combat was rare after 2011 with the purpose of the mission changed to building Afghanistan into a stable nation with a democratic government and to ensure that the Taliban did not return to power, even though they were weakened greatly. 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin talks with Army General Scott Miller on March 21, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

     On Feb. 29, 2020, then President Donald Trump reached an agreement with the Taliban that would see the U.S. withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. The six page long agreement contained multiple conditions that had to be followed by both sides for a U.S. withdrawal to happen. 

     After his election, President Joe Biden quickly made efforts to begin the withdrawal process. President Biden initially set a deadline of Sept. 11, 2021 for all U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan but it was later changed to Aug. 31, 2021.

      On Aug. 30, The Pentagon announced that all U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Afghanistan, therefore ending the nearly 20-year-long war. Later that day, the State Department announced that the U.S. embassy in Kabul had been closed, with diplomatic operations moving to Doha, Qatar.

      It was a good idea to withdraw troops after having been in Afghanistan for 20 years and making sure that a fifth president would not oversee this war, but the process was rushed. 

     President Biden had the right idea but made some major miscalculations when withdrawing U.S. troops. These miscalculations led to the very chaotic scenes that took place at the airport in Kabul throughout the month of August. These misjudgments led to very chaotic scenes reminiscent of when the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam in 1975. The Taliban also quickly regained control of Afghanistan during this time. 

     The most vital mistake made was leaving Bagram Air Base, which had been the U.S. command center on the ground in Afghanistan for 20 years, without telling the Afghan army. This resulted in the U.S. having to use Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as the location for evacuations to be conducted. 

     This was the biggest embarrassment for the U.S. on the global stage in a long time, and maybe ever. Leaving Afghanistan is not the problem here, the issue is the fashion in which it was done. A Rasmussen Reports poll released on Sept. 1 showed that 62% of respondents support Congress launching an investigation into the withdrawal process. 

     According to an Axios report, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is planning to hold hearings on the matter. The article also states that Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also plan on launching investigations and holding hearings on the matter.

     Rep. Carlos Giminez (R-FL) has also introduced a resolution that calls on the Pentagon inspector general to conduct an investigation into three different aspects of the withdrawal. The resolution has multiple co-sponsors including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) among others. 

     Multiple prominent Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate as well as former officials have called on President Biden to resign. One interesting lawmaker on the list is Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), who voted to impeach former President Trump during his second impeachment and has voiced support for President Biden’s resignation. 

     Resignations need to happen in addition to an investigation and President Biden needs to be impeached. Additionally, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will likely never let it go to a vote on the chamber floor. Any president that strands Americans in a foreign country is not fit for the office of President of the United States.