During the 20 years of United States occupation in Afghanistan, life was rampant; women attended University, child marriages decreased, and opportunities grew for all members of society. But in the blink of an eye, all of this changed. Afghanistan is collapsing; with the Afghan military submitting to the Taliban, with its president fleeing for safety, citizens are desperately trying to escape, relocate to a safe environment, and end the cycle of Taliban rule for their future generations. Just yesterday, mobs of Afghans swarmed a US Military plane in the Kabul airport. At least two died after clinging on during takeoff.
The United States went to Afghanistan in 2001 with the intent of defeating Al Qaeda, a terrorist group responsible for the attacks of September 11th, 2001. On May 2nd, 2011, the United States was successful in its mission of killing Osama Bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaeda. Since then, the US has focused on removing the Taliban from power and restoring peace in Afghanistan. But after trillions of dollars spent, the United States decided to pull out of the country for its own sake.
On May 1st, 2021 the United States began its final troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Earlier this month, the Taliban began taking over cities in Afghanistan, regaining their confidence with fewer US troops in control. Then, on August 15th, the Taliban took over Kabul, the nation's capital. They promise peace towards civilians including women, but their actions, considering their previous violent nature, may prove otherwise.
Yesterday, President Biden addressed the world, “standing squarely” on his decision to remove troops by September 11th, 2021, “It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not.” His speech pertained to topics such as the cowardly nature of Afghanistan’s military and ending the burden of this civil war, which he believes was placed on him by former president Donald Trump, for future presidents. Many, however, were quick to criticize Biden, as he lacked an apology or explanation for the way he carried out the troop removal. Should the United States have waited until more civilians were safe before exiting Afghanistan? This debate persists.
Although Afghanistan is on the other side of the world, there are ways to help Afghan refugees in your country. If you can, consider donating to organizations such as Women for Afghan Women, The International Refugee Assistance Project, and the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee. If you are unable to financially support Afghans, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are looking for volunteers willing to help Afghans upon arrival to the United States. Remember, amid the silence, there are desperate pleas for help. Freedom of speech is a privilege. Utilize it for those who can’t.