An 18-Year-Long War, $2 Trillion Dollars and Countless Lives Lost
A seven-day “reduction in violence” between US forces and the Taliban has officially begun, the success of this partial week long-truce could determine if Washington and the insurgents will sign a deal that could begin the drawback of US troops from this war torn nation. But how did this almost two-decade long war begin?
How it began…
It started with the 9/11 bombings orchastrated by Osama Bin Laden, the head of the Islamist terror group al-Qaeda. The Taliban, who were radical Islamists that ran Afghanistan, protected Bin Laden and refused to hand him over to the US. This led to then-US President George W. Bush to declare war on Afghanistan under the premise of eradicating terrorist bases and to “attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.”
Why has it lasted for so long?
The war has raged on for decades and has left Afghans poorer, with most living in poverty and the Taliban with more territory than before, even extending beyond Afghanistan to neighbouring Pakistan (the Taliban controls 70% of Afghanistan).
But why has the war been such a catastrophe? Experts have attributed it to the fierce Taliban resistance, the limitations of the Afgan government and other nations’’ reluctance to keep their forces in Afghanistan for a prolonged period. The tenacity of the Taliban is not to be underestimated. The group has managed to remain strong, especially financially, having made as much as $1.5bn per year, with much of it having come from opium and heroin production.
Over the years, the US presence has played a push and pull situation. The surge in American troops under the Obama Administration had managed to drive the Taliban out of part of Afghanistan. However, this was only in the short term. International forces eventually withdrew and the Taliban regrouped.
The almost two decade-long war in Afghanistan has been estimated to cost $2 Trillion (more than the Korean and Vietnam War combined) and the lives of over 40,000 Afghan civilians and American soldiers alike. While Afghans celebrate a pause in the violence, whether a long term peace treaty will be signed is still up in the air.
The question remains, will this finally end the decades long war in Afghanistan? Will a generation born into violence and poverty finally see peace?
Photo Credits: Common Dreams