For the first time in 20 years, American troops will not be in Afghanistan; the last day of August was the final withdrawal … or “retreat” as some would put it.
The United States is not alone in withdrawing from Afghanistan. At the height of their power in the 19th Century, the British Empire realized that they could not continuously occupy Afghanistan. The Soviet Union learned the same lesson in the 1980s. Both powerful empires could easily enter the country, but each eventually had to retreat.
Why would the Afghan people choose to put themselves at the mercy of guerilla fighters who are determined to send their nation back hundreds of years? There are a couple of factors. First of all, no country wants foreign troops to stay in their country. In 2001 it was easy for a coalition of Afghanistan’s various tribes to drive out the Pashtun tribe-dominated Taliban … but it has been 20 years. To the peoples of Afghanistan, fighting off an invading army is a matter of honor, and they know how to do that.
There is also the religious angle; the Taliban is Sunni Muslim, and the United States is not. Even those who hate the Taliban will view this as a victory “for Islam.” By contrast, Afghan government troops were viewed as hirelings. Their daughters will be forced to marry Taliban fighters at age 15 and lose the right to get an education, and medical care will drop even lower than it already is.
What will become of those who worked for the Americans? Hopefully they will be given refuge in the United States. There were a small number who became Christian believers during these past 20 years who must flee if they won’t return to Islam. Some have recently changed their identity cards to read “Christian” rather than “Muslim.” We hope this reflects a true spiritual change rather than a risky way to escape Afghanistan.
Politico, July 6, 2021
US News and World Report, July 19, 2021
Vox.com, July 11, 2021
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