When talking to anyone over the age of 30, any question about 9/11 can be precisely answered with overwhelming detail. People vividly remember the attacks on American soil; however, they tend to forget this tragedy was followed by more pain and suffering by a drawn out war in the Middle East. When the United States first arrived in Afghanistan in 2001, the main goal was to exact revenge on the group behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks; however, American troops remained in Afghanistan far longer than necessary causing more harm than good.
On 11 September 2001, two hijacked planes hit both World Trade Centers and one plane hit the Pentagon prompting the U.S. government to attack the terrorists responsible. In response to the attack, President Bush assured, “the Taliban will pay a price,” cementing the American invasion of Afghanistan as a retaliatory strike for the lives lost and lives changed as a result of the actions of the Taliban (Zucchino). Just days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush authorized, “the use of force against those responsible for attacking the United States of America…cited by the Bush administration as legal rationale for its decision to take sweeping measures to combat terrorism,” justifying American intervention in Afghanistan as revenge for attacks on America and aligning with the newest belief of the American people: justice (“The U.S. War in Afghanistan”). The terrorist attacks of 11 September established the long held idea that after such a horrendous attack, America must fight until any threat is completely eliminated.
Not long after the initial invasion of Afghanistan, military and civilian alike realized that in order to effectively eliminate the threat, terrorist groups must be uprooted and a new type of society would need to be instituted. The primary mission of the involvement in Afghanistan was accomplished as, “Al-Qaida hasn’t been able to mount a major attack in the West since 2005,” indicating troops were able to halt the advance of terrorist organizations in the Middle East (Knickmeyer). Despite American troops’ efforts, the second phase “a grace period for Afghanistan’s government, security forces and civil society to try to build enough strength to survive on their own,” did not end as they had planned; instead, the “second phase of the war…looks on the verge of complete failure now,” (Knickmeyer). Much progress had been made as American and allied forces diminished groups that had terrorized foreigners and Afghanis alike, but the failure to strengthen a modernized Afghanistan undid this progress and opened the door for a new wave of tragedy. As a result of a prolonged stay in Afghanistan, there was more conflict involving Allied troops, Afghani citizens, and terrorists that did little to change the reality that the U.S. could not mold Afghanistan to be the modern country it desired. In the end, prolonged involvement in the Middle East caused senseless death and pain that no longer promoted the success of the mission.
Knickmeyer, Ellen. “Longest War: Were America’s Decades in Afghanistan Worth It?” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 15 Aug. 2021, apnews.com/article/joe-biden-middle-east-afghanistan-8d6d6d9e1e7cddbd49caf0b52a40c2e8.
“Timeline: U.S. War in Afghanistan.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-war-afghanistan?gclid=CjwKCAjwy7CKBhBMEiwA0Eb7as4GkV3t61DvFudPOelIVAipEX7AT6OaZMGA_EgblF9TAN9UU9-CsxoC3o4QAvD_BwE
Zucchino, David. “The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Apr. 2021, www.nytimes.com/article/afghanistan-war-us.html.