war Afghanistan one

The War in Afghanistan, 1




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elusive strategy






Afghanistan is known as the Graveyard of Empires. In the past century-and a-half, Afghan fighters have seen off invasions by the British Empire, the Soviet Union.

And today, despite the efforts of four US presidents (Ronald Reagan, G.W. Bush, Barrack Obama, Donald Trump), there’s very little sign of a final American victory over the horizon.

From the Cold War to the War on Terror, this is a look at how four presidents have approached one of the most complex conflict zones the US has ever entered into.

Since 2001, the US war in Afghanistan has cost $840 billion, thousands of American lives and it’s killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians.

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But US involvement in Afghanistan started decades before.

In 1979, the Soviet Union, locked in a Cold War with the US, invaded Afghanistan.

The Reagan Years

After enduring a Soviet-backed defeat in Vietnam, the US decided to supply, arm and fund the Afghan militias fighting the Soviets, the Mujaheddin.

President Reagan championed the program.

In 1988, the Soviets began pulling out of Afghanistan — victory for the US.

Ronald Reagan, US President, 1981 to 1989: “After nine years of war, the courage and determination of the Afghan people and the Afghan freedom fighters have held sway.

And today, the end of the occupation is in sight.”

With the Soviets finally out in 1989, US interest in Afghanistan waned and the country was soon torn between a weak communist government and a collection of warlords.

In this maelstrom, the US left behind a well-armed, motivated network of international jihadists.

Among them was this man: Osama bin Laden.

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The G.W. Bush Years

After years of civil war, the Taliban, allied with Al Qaida took over Afghanistan.

Then on 9-11, Al Qaeda attacked the US.

President Bush gave the Taliban an ultimatum:

George W. Bush, US president, 2001 to 2009: “Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. And hand over every terrorist.”

Their refusal sparked a NATO-led war to hunt down the Al Qaeda leaders behind the 9-11 Attacks.

George W. Bush, US president, 2001 to 2009: “On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against the Al Qaeda terrorist training camps, and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.”

Within weeks, they had taken over the country.

But although the invasion had routed the Taliban in two months, it soon became clear that the war wasn’t over. US forces faced improvised bombs, mountain assaults and unrelenting attacks on their outposts spread across the country.

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The Obama Years

In 2009, President Obama ordered a surge of US troops; a wave of 30,000 soldiers and marines saturated Afghanistan’s hot spots, seizing and holding ground, in ways that had been previously impossible.

Barrack Obama, US President, 2009 to 2017: “As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future.”

While the US did claim some success, the surge was far short of an all-out victory. And had a strict timeline.

Critics say Obama’s forced timeline for withdrawal handicapped the surge’s effectiveness.

Ten years after, the war in Afghanistan started, the US achieved its major goals of the so-called War on Terror: US Navy Seals stormed bin Laden’s home in a Pakistani military town and killed him.

Barrack Obama, US President, 2009 to 2017: “The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda.”

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The Trump Years

Trump took a different stance on Afghanistan than Obama. Following the post-surge troop withdrawal, Trump increased the US’s military involvement.

Donald Trump, US President, 2017 to 2021: “Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines. And we no longer tell our enemies our plans.”

Under the Trump White House, the US ramped up air strikes on Afghanistan, including launching the largest, non-nuclear bomb against ISIS fighters.

But Taliban forces still have military clout, briefly overrunning two cities in 2018, and inflicting a worrying toll of casualties on the Afghan security forces and civilians.

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After seventeen years of conflict in Afghanistan, the Taliban control or contest between sixty to seventy percent (60% to 70%) of the country.

The US has finally turned to try to negotiate a political end to the war with the Taliban, although many fear an American pullout will see the Taliban return to power.

After four presidents and four strategies, peace is still an elusive horizon in Afghanistan.

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Army, Marines. The Americans were the first to invade and occupy Afghanistan. True or false?

Navy, Fleet, Warship, Airstrike. Was the War in Afghanistan a quick and easy victory for the US, NATO and coalition forces?

Air Force, Warplane.
Was the US allied with the Soviet Union in fighting against the Afghan insurgents? Why did the US side with the Mujaheddin?

Invasion, Occupation. After the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, there was peace and stability in the country. Is this right or wrong? What was one of the consequences?

Artillery, Mortar. Did the United States do an about-face regarding Afghanistan? Did the US make a 180 degree turn? Did Bush launch a surprise attack on the Taliban or did he give them a warning?

Special Forces, Green Berets, Navy SEALS. As a Democrat, did Obama reduce combat troops from Afghanistan after he succeeded Bush?

Assault Rifle. What happened during 20 years of American and NATO presence in Afghanistan? Did US forces overthrow the Taliban regime, or was it continually at war with the Taliban government?
Intelligence. My country has been involved with Afghanistan. My country has had relations with Afghanistan. Yes or no?

Radar. Is there a lot of debate, discussions and controversy surrounding the war in Afghanistan?

Radio, Communication. What do you and others think of the war in Afghanistan?

Helicopter. Should the US and NATO have been involved? Or what could or should NATO and the US have done?

Fighter Jet, Bomber, Transport Plane. What might happen in the future?

Surface to Surface Missile. Surface to Air Missile. Why is Afghanistan a “failed state”?

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