9/11 anniversary: US Presidents and their 16-year-long Afghanistan war
Updated On : 11 Sep 2017,07:35 PM
War on Afghanistan has been a point of contention for all United States Presidents since 9/11 attacks. It has been their biggest failure and biggest achievement.
According to one estimate, United States has conservatively spent USD 841 Billion on war in Afghanistan, while others say that if you add up real cost of medical care of veterans and other expenses then the figure adds up to USD 2 Trillion in last 16 years.
At least 21,000 security forces participating in the war and 31,000 civilians living in the war zone were killed till 2016.
No wonder the US citizens have been waiting for the longest war in their history to end. They have been electing Presidents on the promise of doing just that since 2008 but to no avail.
Here’s how US Presidents over 16 years have handled the Afghanistan war:
George W Bush became an instant poster boy for War on Terror when he announced the invasion of Afghanistan to weed out Taliban and Al Qaeda in October 2001. But his inability to win or end the war within his term became his biggest failure, not to mention invasion of Iraq in process.
Then came Barrack Obama, first African-American President who rode on the wave of ‘Change’ all the way to White House. His big promise was to bring back jobs from off shores and withdraw troops completely. First it seemed like he is just taking longer, like full two terms to fulfil his promise but at the end he also caved in ended up increasing number of US troops in the war torn South Asian nation.
After overseeing the war for almost 5 years, Obama prematurely called the end of combat mission in 2014, which led to change in rules of engagement and allowed US military forces to shoot in defence and not aggressively attack. This led to resurgence of Taliban within a year.
Obama was compelled to once again allow US troops to offensively target the Taliban, rather than waiting to be shot at first, changing the rules of engagement near the end of his tenure in June 2016.
Current US President Donald Trump did not battle to break his vow to focus on ‘America First’ that long. Elected to office in October 2016 on the promise of ending war on terror ‘within a month’ by obliterating ‘ISIS’, Trump is yet to do any of those things. In fact, In August he increased the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan from 11,000 to 14,500.
His new Aghan policy calls for an unremunerated troop increase, an open-ended commitment to station American forces in the country, greater leeway for US commanders to make military choices, a warning to Pakistan to end its support to various terrorist organizations operating from its soil, and an exhortation to India to enlarge its presence in Afghanistan.
It is safe to say with Trump in White House, there is no end to assault in Afghanistan in near sight.