The situation in Afghanistan is growing dire. With the withdrawal of U.S. troops progressing, the anti-government armed militia known as the Taliban have waged large-scale offensives to regain their grip on the country. As they make their way to the capital, Kabul, in an ever intensifying fight against government forces, civilian lives are being sacrificed the most.*
Though the American government has expressed deep concern and aided government forces with recent bombardment, as of yet, there has been no sign that the U.S. military’s plans to leave the country by the end of the month have changed. While the U.S. may want to show how it succeeded in turning Afghanistan into a free country by ending America’s longest war after 20 years, criticism has mounted on all fronts for apparently abandoning Afghanistan in its darkest hour. If anything, America has brought this chaos upon Afghanistan with its extended occupation. As such, America must take responsibility and bring peace to Afghanistan.
Since the end of April, the Taliban has ramped up its aggression in the wake of the power vacuum caused by America’s withdrawal. They have taken control of 10 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, increasing the number of districts they control from around 70 in mid-April to over 200, approximately 60% of the country. With America’s withdrawal 95% complete, Afghan forces have lost their anchor and their advantage. After months of fighting, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, last month there were over 1,000 civilian casualties as a result of urban warfare in three cities, the worst level since the U.N. began tracking civilian casualties in 2009. “If this violence isn’t stopped,” warned the U.N., “casualties will reach an unprecedented level.”** However, President Joe Biden stated flatly that “Afghan leaders have to come together. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation,” as he flatly refused to reevaluate America’s withdrawal.
Meanwhile, many in America have grown weary of the war. Next month will mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. While the United States originally toppled the Taliban during its war on terror, with expenditures topping $1 trillion and the loss of more than 2,000 troops, disdain for military intervention has grown.
But, the peace agreement America made with the Taliban last February as a way of exiting Afghanistan has all but collapsed. Talks for a permanent cease-fire have stalled, and no one could have anticipated how the war front and balance of power would change. Leaving everything up to the government of Ashraf Ghani would be disastrous.* Even the Republican Party has demanded this hasty decision be reversed.
The United States and the wider international community have a duty to resolve this crisis and open the path to peace, whether that be through diplomacy or humanitarian aid.
*Editor’s note: The Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan on Aug. 16, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The original version of this article was written and published before the situation changed.
**Editor’s note: Although accurately translated, this quoted remark could not be independently verified.