The Afghanistan war is renowned as one of the longest warfare the United States has ever participated in. Nevertheless, the conflict in the country had started long before America intervened in 2001, its participation led to a shift in the dimension of the warfare. Taliban, who were controlling Afghanistan were driven from power, curtailing the efforts by Al-Qaeda to plan and execute terrorist attacks, which had included the September 11 attacks in America and the bombing of the American embassies at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and also in Nairobi, Kenya. Although great gains have been achieved such as the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, these have come with significantly large financial costs, and the death of more than two thousand American soldiers. The research explores the progress, and the role played by the United States in the war, highlighting the local development it contributed towards, and the ultimate cost it paid for its involvement. By exploring the relevance of the initiatives introduced by the United States in local development, effective strategies can be adopted to ensure the sustainability of economic and social interventions.
America played a huge role in initiating the fight against terrorism focused on Afghanistan based Al-Qaeda group. With the backing of the international community, including the United States and NATO, America and Britain initiated attacks on Afghanistan aimed to root out Al-Qaeda and its top leaders such as bin Laden. In this way, the United States became a leader in this war, a fact that has been noted through the vast resources the country has contributed in this war compared to other nations. America has been providing military, economic, and political assistance to Kabul since they entered the war. For example the U.S. and its allies in the Afghan war contribute more than 5 billion dollars as civilian aid to Kabul every year (Tellis and Eggers 1). The military aid was most evident, with the U.S. deploying about 100,000 personnel in 2011 under the directive of Obama, this as the U.S. prepared to withdraw troops from the country (Johnson 1).
Afghanistan war followed the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that led to a comprehensive destruction of the national economy, state institutions, and the armed forces. In its intervention effort, the U.S. devised a plan comprised of three phases. Toppling the Taliban administration, together with other minority faction who ruled the country and provided asylum to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, responsible for major attacks including the September 11 attacks was the first step. In the second phase the US set to defeat the Taliban military and their allies, this in a bid to restore order and an elected government in Afghanistan and rebuild other vital institutions of the country. The third phase, enforced by President Obama, focused on protecting the people from Taliban attacks and reduce casualties, as well as reintegrate insurgents into the Afghan society. A timetable was also drawn for a timeframe within which the US military personnel and other foreign troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan, gradually handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan military and police. The United States has also embarked on training Afghan military personnel to ensure they are capable of protecting the country from the ever-present Taliban or Al-Qaeda threat. In this initiative, President Trump has increased U.S. troops in the country aiming to train more individuals into the Afghan Special Forces unit, these aimed to be up to 17,000 recruits (Johnson 1).
Through the assistance of the USA (and other countries or bodies fighting against Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces), the reconstitution of the Afghan state has been possible, with the Afghan security forces becoming a national institution as it once was. Slow, but positive human development has also ben facilitated by the improving economy, this owing partially to the grants offered. Within the period, USA and allied forces, these including the Afghan forces have dismantled the terrorist groups, reducing their military and financial capabilities and consequently their impact in the unstable country. Before the involvement of the United States, a majority of Afghanistan was under the control of terrorist. By the year 2017, the sixteenth year of the deadly war, 60 percent of Afghan districts were under the control of the Western-backed government in Kabul, ten percent under the control or influence by the Taliban, while the other thirty percent remains contested by the government and terrorist groups (O’Hanlon 1). A majority of these terrorists have since sought refuge in neighbouring Pakistan, renowned for their chemical weapons. The United States has thus continuously supported Pakistan through financial aid and military expertise, this to ensure the country is not disrupted by these terror groups or their nuclear weapons falling to the terrorists. Moreover, through the Trump administration through an effort to pressure Pakistan to root out terrorist bases within its borders, has cut Pakistan annual aid by more than 1.3 billion dollars (Coll 1).
Driving the Taliban away from Afghan and ensuring that political power has been restored at Kabul is arguably the most recognized output of USA involvement in the Afghan war. Notably, the first presidential election was conducted in 2004, an election where there were more than 10 million registered voters including 4 million women. This democratic development has been essential for the country, as it lay foundation for a new dawn and restructuring of the government in Kabul and formation of a new constitution (Reimer 343).
However, there are other local developments that have been facilitated by the entry of the US in the Afghan war. Before the soviet invasion and coups caused by internal conflicts, Afghanistan was taking huge steps towards a more liberal and westernized lifestyle, but still maintained respect for the more conservative individuals and tribes. This was a peaceful era, a time when modern buildings and roads were being constructed in Kabul, these alongside the traditional mud structures. Internal conflicts, constant coups and the soviet invasion however destroyed the harmony in the region, reversing all the steps taken by the country towards modernization in the early and mid twentieth century. The US, therefore, served to restore these local initiatives in the region.
Peace is a medium through which development is achieved. By restoring peace in the region, America gave the region a chance to rebuild without a constant threat that the developmental steps would be reverted, for example through a bombing. America has brought about peace that had not been known in the region for a period of more than thirty years, this a major improvement for the local people. Children are less likely to be forced into terror groups, and more involved in developing the region.
It is through the intervention of the US in the Afghan war that the world community supported the fight against terrorism. Prior to this, Afghanistan was renowned as a terrorist zone, a place where Taliban hosted large-scale training apparatus enabling terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida to flourish. This negatively affected the local development of the region, as all the young and able men were recruited or forced into terror groups, leaving few or no able men to take part in nation building. The education system collapsed, this further aggravated by restricting girls or women to attend school, as well as business operations leading to a stagnant economy (Stabile and Kumar 768). Since America joined the way, much of these have changed. The strict Islamic law is for example not practiced, with all children allowed to attend school including girls, while the economy is gradually improving mainly because the US has heavily invested in reconstructing Afghanistan through building of national roads and educational institutions.
Through the many years, the Afghanistan war has progressed, it has resulted in the death and injuries to many people, these including soldiers in either side of the warring parties, innocent victims such as women and children caught in the crossfire. For example, in the first four months of 2017, more than 2,500 Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) service men and women were killed in the conflict, and more than 4,200 more wounded. The UNH documenting also indicated that a near-record high number of civilian casualties were recorded in the first six months of the same year, a total of 1,662 civilians killed and 3,581 injured. Overall, there seems to exist a high number of deaths and casualties in the region, one case is shown in 2016 where there were more than 11,418 civilian and 18,500 ANDSF casualties. Regardless of the massive losses suffered, the United States has remained in Afghanistan, continuing in its quest to restore order in the country, this mainly through serving in advisory capacities.
The Afghanistan war have cost the United States an estimated 1.07 trillion dollars from the year 2001 to date. The three main component of the total sum is first a total of 773 billion dollars allocated to the Overseas Contingency Operations funds meant for the Afghanistan War, an increase in base budget to the Department of Justice amounting to 243 billion, and finally funds allocated to the Department of Veteran Affairs (Amadeo 1). This means it costs more than the Vietnam War and is second only to the World War II. The fact that there were no tax imposed by the government to cater for the war means the average American family did not feel a direct financial impact of the war and thus, only veterans and their families bore the burden.
It is estimated that about 2,350 U.S. troops died while on duty in Afghanistan, while 20,092 suffered injuries, this on the back of a survival rate of 90 percent of the soldiers wounded in battle. 320,000 American soldiers involved in Iraq and Afghanistan have traumatic brain injuries causing confusion and disorientation, with 8,237 of these suffering from severe brain injury. 1,645 soldiers involved in the war became physically impaired, losing their limbs, while PTSD has affected about 138,000 veterans. An average of 20 veterans commits or attempt suicide each day, making veteran suicide the number one issue amongst the veterans (Amadeo 1).
Through the Afghanistan war, the United States played a major role in ensuring the defeat of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Their military force was exemplary as through the assistance of its allies such as Britain, the United States drove away Taliban, putting an end to their strict Islamic rule. Their influence in the country was not only observable through their military presence but also through economic and political assistance as they facilitated the construction of important state institutions such as the armed forces and an electoral government. However, the high costs of the war, major loss of life, and injuries attained by veterans in this war means the United States suffered great consequences for partaking in the war.