Was Afghanistan Worth It?
Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research Blog Series
Last Saturday marked 25 years since Soviet Forces left Afghanistan.
Before the United States’ invaded Afghanistan in 2001 the Soviets were the last Superpower to occupy the country, from 1979 to 1989. Afghanistan has been called the “graveyard of empires”. Just as Alexander the Great could not conquer the country, the Soviets found their efforts to be “unmanageable”.
This year the United States plans to withdraw its troops but with so many unattained goals, people are asking, did the United States achieve its objectives in the country after fighting such a long and costly war?
According to a recent Pew Research Poll, the answer is no. According to the survey results 52% said the United States mostly failed to achieve its objectives in Afghanistan compared with 38% who stated that it did.The idea that the U.S did not complete its objectives is not a partisan belief and is shared by people on both sides of the political aisle. 52% of Republicans, 48% of Democrats and 54% of independents said the U.S. had failed to achieve most of its objectives.
When the Taliban refused to give up Osama bin Laden, the United States had no choice but to go after the man who had facilitated the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The American public backed the war with enthusiasm.
By 2008, the war was costing the American taxpayers an amount a few times larger than Afghanistan’s GDP, and Americans became tired of it.
Obama’s surge effort in 2009 did little to change the tide of the war. Under Obama we haven’t had a clear plan and because of that public support for the war declined more than under Bush.
As a supporter of the war I knew that Bush’s decision to invade the country was the right one. I backed the invasion because I knew we had to find Osama Bin Laden and anyone responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
What we can learn from the Afghan War is that Americans will support a war when their interests are at stake and when victory is in arms reach. Though war is nasty, brutish and devastating, I believe that we went into Afghanistan with the right intentions and support the efforts made by the United States andcoalition forces.