When President Joe Biden announced that US forces will leave Afghanistan by September 11 2021, the objections and remonstrations were swift. As retired Marine combat veteran Matthew Hoh writes in CNN, “these protests are nearly all disingenuous, false and specious, and meant to utilize fear to continue a tragic and purposeless war.”
Hoh asks us to consider two facts. First, that prior to the US invasion in 2001, Afghanistan and Pakistan were home to four international terror groups. Now, the Pentagon testifies that there are no fewer than 20. Second, when the US first invaded Afghanistan, al Qaeda counted about 400 members in its ranks. Since then, al Qaeda has spawned branches and offshoots, including the Islamic State. Today, their total membership numbers in the tens of thousands. At times, they have controlled entire cities in multiple countries. Ultimately, Hoh writes, “Much of the argument against withdrawal ignores how truly counterproductive the war in Afghanistan has been.”
Comparisons of Afghanistan to the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and to the US withdrawal from Vietnam have been made, and these, Hoh writes, “play on the hollow fear that a US exit from Afghanistan will result in a comeback of Islamic militant forces.”
However, as Hoh points out, the Islamic State’s success in Iraq in 2014 was not due to the absence of US forces in Iraq, but rather because of the Iraqi government’s brutal treatment of the Sunni Minority, and the direct and indirect support of jihadist groups in Syria by the United States.
This is the first formal peace process for Afghanistan in 30 years, and this process is dependent upon foreign forces leaving the country. Regardless of whether the planned 2,500 troops withdraw, the US will continue to have a presence in Afghanistan. However, the negotiations that the Afghan people need and deserve after so many decades of suffering. “The only option forward for Afghanistan,” Hoh concludes, “is a peace negotiated by the Afghans, for the Afghans, and protected by an agreement by outside powers to stop the decadeslong foreign interference and intervention in the country’s affairs.”
Read the full piece here.