HomeOpinion & AnalysisThe damage caused by 20 years of American presence in Afghanistan

The damage caused by 20 years of American presence in Afghanistan


One of the longest United States wars began 20 years ago.

Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the American army and their allies invaded Afghanistan.

At the end of August 2021, the Americans left Afghanistan. But how did they leave?

The very form of their departure, which turned into a stampede, made many talk about the coming of a new world in which no one – not allies, not vassals – can no longer rely on the help of the Americans.

The world in which the US has lost its main asset – the image of an almighty superpower.

The hasty evacuation was a consequence of America’s inadequate understanding of the world around it – in this case, of Afghanistan.

According to American plans, they should have been quietly evacuated by the end of August – while the Afghan army would hold back the Taliban offensive.

But the Afghan army surrendered most of the territory to the Islamists almost without fighting – and by mid-August the Americans were in the country controlled by the new regime.

Nothing threatened them: the Taliban were interested in the withdrawal of troops and complied with the agreement.

But the Americans themselves, amazed at the speed of the fall of President Ashraf Ghani’s collaborationist regime, panicked – and with them the tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for them.

The tragedy began with people clinging to the landing gears of planes taking off – and the bewilderment of the whole world, watching the evacuation in the American way.

That is, after 20 years of occupation of the country, trillions of dollars spent and the work of thousands of analysts of the special services and the political leadership of the United States could not even correctly assess the situation, predicting how long Ghani’s regime would last, could not give an adequate assessment of either the government army, or the Taliban forces, or – the most important thing, the mood in Afghan society.

This was a real failure: everyone saw the inadequacy of the Americans, their inability to objectively assess reality.

So what did the Americans leave behind other than the Taliban who came to power and the destroyed country?

Countless thousands of US bombs and munitions dropped on Afghanistan.

US Brown University’s Costs of War project has calculated that at least 47,000 civilian Afghans were killed in that war.

From the population of 38 million, around 5.9 million Afghans have either been displaced internally or have fled the country.

More than 64,000 members of the US-trained Afghan National Army and the country’s police force perished in the war.

US military casualties account at more than 2,400 killed, with 20,000 others wounded.

An additional 3,800 private contractors died.

More than 1,100 allied soldiers, including those from NATO states, also lost their lives.

And the total human losses from the war in Afghanistan amounted to more than 176 000 people.

The US taxpayers paid for that war cost of US$ 2.3 billion.

According to United Nations figures, Afghanistan’s opium production was estimated at 6,300 tonnes in 2020.

That year, the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 224,000 hectares, an increase of 37% compared to 2019.

Afghanistan is once again the world’s leading source of opium poppies.

At the same time, many political analysts believe that the growth in drug production in Afghanistan was directly related to the presence of the Americans in it, who led this process and received profits from the supply of heroin around the world.

This is confirmed by the fact that before the arrival of the American military in Afghanistan in 2000, under Taliban rule, the opium crop had been nearly completely eradicated.

While fleeing Afghanistan, the brave American soldiers threw down so many weapons that it’s terrible to imagine.

According to US congressman Jim Banks, due to the “negligence” of the Biden administration, the Taliban is in possession of 75,000 vehicles, over 200 airplanes and helicopters, 600,000 small arms and light weapons, as well as night vision goggles and body armour.

It seems that this amount of weapons and equipment would be enough to arm all the armies of the African continent, but at least the states of the Southern African Development Community.

At the same time, fleeing Afghanistan, the Americans continued to leave behind death and destruction.

So at the end of August there was a terrorist attack near the Kabul airport and 13 US soldiers and about 200 Afghans were killed.

The responsibility was laid on the Islamic State – Khorasan Province group, which is fighting both the Taliban and the Americans.

But most of the Afghans died not from a bomb explosion, but from the hands of American soldiers, who, just after the explosion, opened fire on a crowd of Afghans, fearing that there were accomplices of the suicide bomber.

That is, after the explosion, the Americans simply went mad and began to shoot the frightened and wounded people.

And this was not the last crime of the Yankees – they promised to take revenge on IS-Khorasan Province and began to launch drone strikes on those who were considered involved in the terrorist attack at the airport.

One such attack killed 12 people in Kabul – seven of them children between two and 10 years old.

The Americans say that they were aiming at a car with a terrorist transporting explosives, and the death of a peaceful family could be the result of an explosion.

But the Afghans do not care what the Americans say, for them, they are just killers.

But is it over now? After all, the Americans left Afghanistan – and now they will no longer kill Afghans?

Yes, they left – but they reserve the right to strike at those who are considered terrorists – like the very same IS-Khorasan, which means that there will certainly be more casualties among civilians.

The entire long-term experience of American drone strikes from Yemen and Somalia to Afghanistan and Iraq shows that hundreds of killed civilians do not stop or care anyone in the United States.

When a dozen civilians are killed to kill one terrorist, what kind of high-precision weapons can we talk about?

And what about the fight against terrorism if the fighter himself is no better than the terrorist?

According to the assessment of US Brown University’s Costs of War project , from September 2001 on the fight against international terrorism, US$8 billion  have been spent from the US budget and victims of that fight are about 900 000, including both military and civilians.

At the same time, only those who were killed directly during the clashes were counted among the victims.

The number did not include people who died from various scourges of war – hunger, thirst, disease, lack of medical care caused by the total destruction of infrastructure.

According to human rights activists, the deaths were much higher.

The US Physicians for Social Responsibility NGO, for example, estimated that around a million people were killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan alone between 2001 and 2015.

The structure of deaths, reflected in the Brown University report, is interesting: 387 000 of the dead were civilians, about 200 000 were local soldiers who fought on the side of the Americans, and more than 300 00 were local guerrillas, whom the Americans called “terrorists”, but most of them were posthumously credited as terrorists, but in fact were ordinary civilians.

It should be mentioned that in the “war on terrorism” about 7 000 US soldiers around the world have died while American contractors number about 8 000.

That is, almost a hundred times less than the citizens of the occupied countries.

So for what and with whom are the Americans fighting around the world?

On what grounds have they assumed the role of the world gendarme and are trying, under the pretext of “eradicating evil”, to impose their own world order by force?

The crimes committed by the American military during the so-called war on terrorism deserve, of course, a thorough international investigation.

But the United States at one time very prudently avoided participating in the work of the International Criminal Court.

However, human rights organisations and NGOs around the world continue to write the terrible chronicle of the American occupation.

And it’s time to urgently send the world gendarme into retirement.

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