Longer than most San Joaquin Memorial students have even been alive, America has been engaged in combat operations within the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, carrying its reverberations through four separate presidential administrations. After September 11, the United States sought to purge al-Qaeda from the world, the terrorist organization responsible for the tragedy.
However the military organization in charge of Afghanistan known as the Taliban was housing much of al-Qaeda and leaders like Osama bin Laden, refusing to give them up. With that assertion, America’s longest war officially began, with America’s goal being to remove the Taliban from power and eliminate al-Qaeda from that region. Even though war was never officially declared by Congress, the brave men and women of the American armed forces have been within that region ever since, and 2,000 of them have died since. The end of the conflict seemed like a distant dream.
Or at least, that was the mentality after the war had dragged on for two whole administrations, blazing through the War on Terror with George W. Bush, and still remaining in place through both of Obama’s terms. Even with the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the war still carried on.
Then came the presidency of Donald Trump. One of the campaign promises he made during his 2016 campaign was to end the war in Afghanistan, the conflict by that point having dragged on for fifteen years. Prior to his campaign, the 45th President often shot the war down as an utter waste of American resources and lives, once tweeting that “We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.” Near the end of his term, he upheld his promise, negotiating with the Taliban to have all troops withdrawn from the area by May 1st, 2021.
Although this was criticized by established Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the aisle, stating that it would destabilize the region and undo much of the progress America has made these past few years. However progressives and staunch conservatives on the far sides of each party, along with much of the public, approved of this decision, focusing on the long overdue withdrawal as an overwhelming positive. This is what stood until Trump’s presidency ended with the victory of Joe Biden in November.
With the 46th President came a true, official end to the decades long war.
“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” President Biden declared as he officially set the new timeline for September 11, 2021, the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked this entire war. This pushback of the original negotiated date was done in order to better stabilize the region while withdrawing the troops, a criticism often brought about with Trump’s earlier date for the end of the war.
Still, the same group of Democrats and Republicans did criticize the motion, although there were fewer raised voices than the previous date of May 1. No matter how this end will come about, almost everyone agrees that this war finally coming to an end is a tremendous positive for this country.
Many people see the United States of America as being within a constant state of war, engaging with conflicts all around the world that most Americans believe we have no place being in.
For many students, the aftershocks of the War on Terror after September 11 have been hanging over our entire lives, even if perhaps many did not realize it. Those terrorist attacks in 2001 were horrifying and propelled America towards war on multiple different fronts, but much of the conflict of those days are behind us now.
In the meantime, we can end the war on fronts where we do not need to be, pulling America’s military influence out from much of the world where we are not required to fight. The longest war of our time will officially be over soon and perhaps with it other places of constant fighting and conflict on America’s part will cease as well.