Afghanistan and the U.S. recently signed a strategic partnership which will insure that the U.S. provides military and financial support to Afghanistan for at least ten more years. This is on top of a war that has already become America’s longest. The final bill for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan will total at least 3.7 trillion dollars. This massive spending has come at a time when the U.S. government can ill afford it due to its poor financial condition. Should the United States continue to pour money into a country where so many of its people hate the U.S.? Should this money be headed to Afghanistan, or could it be more suitably employed at home? The answer is clear; the U.S. does not have an obligation to this country and should address pressing domestic problems instead of sending it down a money pit.
The U.S. is indeed hated by many in Afghanistan. US-Afghan relations since the beginning of the year have been strained by a video of U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of presumed Taliban fighters, by Quran burnings at a US base which led to protests, and an alleged killing spree by a US soldier in an Afghan village. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned photographs of US soldiers posing with the mangled bodies of Afghan insurgents, calling them “inhuman.”
Afghanistan’s neighbor Pakistan has likewise experienced significant anti-Americanism. An Afghan Army colonel stated that hatred is growing rapidly and that the Americans are rude, arrogant bullies who use foul language. An Army report in 2011 was based on interviews of hundreds of Afghan and U.S. soldiers. The Afghans saw the United States soldiers as conducting illicit night raids, lacking respect for the country, coming across as indifferent and arrogant, and constantly cursing. Also, as one of our hopes in invading Afghanistan was to liberate women from the oppression of the Taliban, Afghans see American soldiers as mistreating women. Afghan police and army forces, on the other hand, are responsible for the deaths of nearly one out of five NATO soldiers killed in the last year. Clearly, Afghans are troubled by American involvement, and a continuation of such involvement is not needed.
Opposition to American involvement in Afghanistan is by no means confined to those in Afghanistan. Nearly two-thirds of Americans polled in 2011 said that the war in Afghanistan was “not worth fighting.” Even some US politicians, Republican and Democrat, have come out against continued heavy involvement in Afghanistan. Such opposition among both Americans and Afghans to the war in Afghanistan points to a situation that is messed up despite our intervention and that Afghanistan needs no more “help” from the United States.
What exactly are the opportunity costs of our involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan? They are enormous. Pause and think a moment about how much good could have been accomplished with 3.7 trillion dollars. Think of what it would have meant to our national debt if we had instead decided to pay some of it down using that money. Instead, we are left with a destabilized Iraq and an Afghanistan where the Taliban has not been fully dealt with and where there is significant hatred on the part of the Afghans toward their supposed benefactors.
Whatever caution America should have had about getting involved in a land war in Asia should only have been doubled when it was in Afghanistan of all places, which could not even be conquered by tremendous Soviet military might in the 1980s. America has done its part in Afghanistan, more than it had a responsibility to do. Now it is time for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan to end, with our soldiers safe and our money being used at home.