And so, the U.S. is finally out of Afghanistan.
The withdrawal wasn't easy. It also wasn't perfect. It had flaws, chaos and tragic deaths. The process should have started earlier. It also had a date forced on this administration four months earlier that they were able to delay. And had had blocks put in place that made the process even more difficult with added risks for leaving people behind. Withdrawing from a 20-yeard war was never going to be easy, or done right.
But over 120,000 people were evacuated. And 6,000 Americans were evacuated. Only 100-200 Americans remain who want to leave, and the government is still working on getting them out. And still working on getting Afghan out who want to leave. And the Biden administration put together a coalition of over 100 countries who have agreed to take evacuees and have pressed the Taliban to live up to their commitments to let people leave. And the U.S. got a United Nations resolution passed where the world has put the Taliban on notice to live up to those commitments.
The Taliban may live up to those agreements – or they won’t. But the pressure that the Biden administration has put on them to do so is critical because the Taliban want to be part of the world community. And also have significant financial problems and so have a great need of aid, and they know that getting any of that assistance will be difficult if they ignore what these coalitions and the world is requiring.
It was a messy, problem-filled, tragic withdrawal. But then, it was a messy, problem-filled, tragic war for 20 years. The last-minute terrorist bombing was heart-wrenching. Sadly, terrorist bombings were a regular part of life for two decades there. There hadn’t been a terrorist bombing for several months, but then the Taliban and ISIS-K knew that the United States was leaving at the end of August. The last thing they’d want to do is something that would keep American forces there. In the waning days, however, with the military largely gone, terrorists do what terrorists had been doing for 20 years.
And now, the U.S. is out of Afghanistan. And 6,000 Americans are out. And over 120,000 Afghans are out. And the process of helping them all and getting more out will continue, with world pressure.
It was a terrible situation. It was a horrifying, unnecessary 20-year war. One that cost $2.3 trillion and for which 2,500 American soldiers' lives and 3,800 American contractors' lives were lost -- along with 100,000 Afghan lives. And as chaotic and tragic as the withdrawal was, with all its flaws, the withdrawal was handled professionally and with an effectiveness in a disastrous situation. And we are out.
And I can’t imagine the horror if the previous administration had been the ones to do the evacuating from the withdrawal treaty that they themselves signed. Releasing the co-founder of the Taliban and releasing 5,000 Taliban fighters. After all, we saw how they handled their own withdrawal from office on January 6, and that – by the U.S. Constitution -- was a peaceful transfer of power.
But now, we are out of Afghanistan. Finally.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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