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Innocents are paying the price for war in Afghanistan

Salma Amrou/YJI

Suffolk, Virginia, U.S.A. – If there is anything we should keep in mind when educating ourselves about modern geo-political matters, it is that the United States is constantly scheming. These schemes are then carried out behind the righteous guise of policing the rest of the world, nevermind the amount of destruction that is caused as a result. 

Many Americans still believe this facade, which is evident in the outrage expressed about our “abandonment” of Afghanistan, particularly its women and children, a sentiment that is extremely problematic for a multitude of reasons.

Whatever your position, you cannot deny that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has been nothing short of destructive – and the primary reason behind its instability in the past two decades.

That, coupled with the knowledge of other U.S. ventures in the Middle East – its funding of Israel and its genocide of Palestinians, the waging of war in Iraq, or the general interference in the politics and determination of most Middle Eastern countries – shows that the U.S. is not as benevolent in foreign affairs as it would like you to believe. 

At surface-level, it appears that the decades and trillions of dollars that the U.S. invested in the Afghanistan war, and subsequently all of the innocent lives ruined, was for naught. But just like America’s decision to wage war was made with motives ulterior to those explicitly declared, the withdrawal of troops is most likely part of a larger plan.

I do not claim to know what this plan is, but what I do know is that history has an odd tendency of repeating itself. Those who are aware of the history behind this issue, beyond the U.S. “war on terror,” will know that the roots of this issue extend all the way back to the Cold War. 

At the time, Afghanistan was colonized by Soviet Russia. (The fact that Afghanistan, even before U.S. intervention, was subject to the control of other world powers should be a huge indicator of how much imperialism has contributed to its long-term suffering.) This was unfortunate for the U.S., which was concerned with curbing the spread of communism – no matter what.

But the U.S. was not keen on using its own military for this task, so it – and a handful of other countries in the Middle East – funded the establishment of a militant group called the Mujahideen, that would fight Russian forces in Afghanistan.

This method, referred to as ‘proxy war/war by proxy,’ is one utilized throughout history by imperialists and is evidence of how such powers view the indigenous lives in their colonies as nothing more than an exploitable resource.

To gather manpower for this militant group, calls for jihad were made by the Middle Eastern leaders working with the U.S., painting the cause in the light of the Muslim moral obligation to help fellow Muslims. This turned out to be highly effective in igniting passions for the cause, and in the 1980s, they successfully defeated the Russian occupation.

Afterwards, the Mujahideen split into rival factions, which then led to the rise of the Taliban. The rest of the story we’ve seen play out over the past few decades.

But what does this have to do with America’s present schemes?

The U.S. and the Taliban, throughout the previous year or so, met in Doha, Qatar for negotiations, which resulted in the Doha Agreement. The terms of this treaty are now playing out as we speak, so President Biden’s earlier claims that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops was “not inevitable” are ridiculous

Of course, one conclusion many of us have drawn about U.S. motivations to withdraw troops is that, after 20 years of war and an unjustifiable amount of resources exhausted, the U.S. determined that to keep on going would be extremely unsustainable. This is reasonable and most likely true, but probably not the entire story.

Considering the history of the U.S. meddling with foreign governments –even without direct military action – it is suspicious that they simply left the U.S.-funded Afghan government to topple over as it did. Had it aligned with their current agenda, they would have – and could have – prevented the Taliban from taking over.

So, what changed?

I cannot say for certain. But we do know that U.S. relationships with certain countries, such as Russia and China, are ridden with tension. They threaten the seemingly untouchable U.S. position on the geo-political stage.

Afghanistan, as aforementioned, was once the site of a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia and is geographically close to these countries.

It is possible that the U.S., despite all of the bridges it has burned in the Middle East, is looking to repair some of them in the interest of maintaining its power. If this line of thought is indeed accurate, then being on civil and cooperative terms with the Taliban would likely be an asset in any future conflicts with Eastern powers.

Of course, this is all speculation.

What isn’t speculation, though, is that the U.S. has been allowed to play these games with impunity for far too long, and it will continue to do so if we do not hold it accountable.

Every day that we – as Americans – buy into our country’s claims of benevolence, innocent people around the world pay the hefty price.

Salma Amrou is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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