By Travis Washington
The Trump Administration and Taliban signed a historic peace deal that could potentially end the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. agrees to remove all U.S. troops within 14 months. The Taliban will have to cut off all ties with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. The United States and the United Nations agreed to remove Taliban leaders from the sanction blacklist. The peace deal took place in Doha, Qatar. After 19 years of fighting and over one year of negotiations, we might have a deal. America’s longest war may come to an end.
The year was September 11, 2001. I was in first grade, and I will never forget seeing the two planes crash into the Twin Towers. It’s ingrained into my head to this day. I saw the fear in people’s faces on live television. This was before I was able to comprehend what happened. Two thousand nine hundred seventy-seven lives were lost, and 6,000 people were injured, according to CNN. On October 1, 2001, the United States declared war on Afghanistan. The goal was to capture Osama Bin Laden. By the time the U.S. troops reached Afghanistan, he was gone. Ten years later on May 2, 2011, Former President Barack Obama announced to the nation navy seals had killed bin, Laden. The majority of us thought that it would be the end of the war. In 2011, there were 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Obama began the withdrawal process by bringing soldiers home. In May 2014, Obama declared the war in Afghanistan was over, leaving only 34,000 troops in Afghanistan in 2014. At the end of Obama’s term, 8,400 troops were still in Afghanistan. We still have a presence in Afghanistan.
When I visit high school students explaining to them why they should pursue a college degree, when I talk to 17 and 18 years old about their future, I begin to realize they do not know much about the world. The majority of students I recruit are born in 2001. This generation of students only knows that we have been at war for as long as they have been alive. This generation might become numb to the suffering of the Afghan people and our soldiers. In 2019, The Washington Post released a scathing report saying the Afghanistan war was unwinnable. In 2019, it was reported by the United Nations around 10,000 civilians died or were injured. It’s time to leave whether you are a Democrat or Republican aside, it’s time to leave Afghanistan. On March 2, 2020, during a campaign rally, President Donald Trump announced a peace deal with the Taliban. Trump declared he would end the war and bring our troops home.
The problems I have with the deal, the democratically elected President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, was not involved in the peace deal. Ghani’s administration was utterly cut off from the agreement. The U.S. government negotiations with the Taliban promised the Afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. Ghani said he would not release the 5,000 prisoners. The release of prisoners is a key part of the deal for the Taliban. If not released, the deal will fall apart. Another problem with the agreement excludes private contractors. There 12,000 U.S. troops and 26,000 private contractors in Afghanistan. If we remove all U.S. troops, private contractors will be in the country conducting U.S. business interests. Lastly, in 2004 Afghanistan updated its constitution guaranteeing equal rights for women. In an urban city like Kabul, Afghanistan has made progressive strides for women’s rights. The Taliban has very oppressive views of women. Once troops leave, the Taliban will push back against women’s rights. One of the United States’ justifications for the war with Afghanistan was to uphold women’s rights.
I believe the peace deal will die. The democratically elected government was not involved, excluding the Afghan government was a tremendous mistake. One day after Trump announced the peace deal, the Taliban bombed the Afghan government. The United States military responded with airstrikes back on March 4, 2020. The deal will die. The negotiations were forced with no guarantee of progress. I agree, we need to withdraw our troops, but once we do there will be a civil war. The Afghan security forces will have to fight the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Travis is a two time graduate of SIU, having received his bachelor’s degree in University studies with a minor in Africana Studies and Speech Communication in 2017 and master’s in Education Administration with a College teaching Certificate in 2019. During his tenure at SIU, Travis was heavily involved in advocacy work and action in the community, with focus on voter registration and change in legislation. Currently trying to pass a law called the “ Hands Up Act”. Do read about the “Hands Up Act.”
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