Critics have rallied to crush the “pointless” war in Afghanistan as US, UK and NATO allies prepare after a 20-year conflict that cost $ 825 billion and the lives of 3,500 soldiers, Withdraw troops and hand over the country to the Taliban.
The conflict has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in total, with remarkably few of the goals set initially being achieved.
As NATO leaders meet for talks this week and a possible withdrawal is planned following President Trump’s promise to remove all US troops by May, those around the world who have spoken out against the war have theirs again Views expressed.
American author and combat veterinarian Daniel L. Davis wrote: “The United States has been waging a pointless, unnecessary war in Afghanistan for nearly two decades.”
Laila Harré, chairwoman of the New Zealand Internet Party, tweeted that it had been 20 years since the alliance opposed this predictably destructive operation. Wasted 20 years of war. ‘
A 2019 poll found that 58 percent of veterans and 59 percent of the public felt the conflict was not worth fighting.
The Afghan government is held together by a fragile power-sharing agreement. It is one of the least democratic and most violent places in the world, and half of its territory is either in Taliban hands or is being challenged by Islamists. While Joe Biden may still reverse Trump’s promise, it is unlikely that NATO forces will stay much longer if he moves forward. Their withdrawal would come to an end one of the longest conflicts of modern times.
But it will also mark the beginning of the end of democracy in the country – the main objective of the long-term campaign – when the Taliban regain total control.
After two decades of war, was it worth it all? MailOnline investigates …
NATO entered Afghanistan in December 2001, shortly after the US invasion, and had 130,000 soldiers in the country at the height of its mission in 2011. That number is now only 10,000 – with bosses considering a complete retreat. The 20-year war cost the alliance at least 825 billion US dollars, killed 3,500 soldiers and left large parts of the country in Taliban hands (left).
The human cost
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 on a counter-terrorism mission. They wanted to capture or kill the al-Qaeda leaders who orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist attack and oust the Taliban government that was protecting the group.
NATO was not far behind and came into the country two months later with a mission to secure the province of Kabul so that the new government could be set up there.
The goals changed quickly, however – a new goal for rebuilding Afghanistan as a stable and democratic country in the Middle East emerged, and the war dragged on.
Military operations were expanded accordingly. In 2003, NATO’s mission expanded across the country, and troops became increasingly involved in day-to-day fighting alongside regular US forces.
Coalition forces have lost 3,500 soldiers, the vast majority of whom – around 2,400 – were Americans, while tens of thousands were injured in the fighting. Around 110,000 Afghans are believed to have died, which is likely underestimated
At its peak in 2011, the NATO force numbered around 130,000 men from 50 countries, before declining rapidly from 2013 when US forces withdrew.
In 2014, primary responsibility for security was transferred to the Afghan government. Today around 10,000 soldiers from 36 countries are stationed there in support and training functions.
During this time around 3,500 coalition troops were killed in action – the vast majority, around 2,400, were Americans.
Britain lost around 450 soldiers – the second highest total – who were largely killed in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar when they took over combat operations from the Americans.
More than 110,000 people are believed to have been killed on the Afghan side, including at least 31,000 civilians, most of whom were hit by air strikes.
At least 30,000 coalition troops were also wounded in the fighting – the vast majority of Americans – and tens of thousands of Afghans were also wounded.
The financial cost
The cost of NATO is difficult to gauge, as its troops come from dozens of countries that individually control spending across many separate budgets.
However, the prestigious Stockholm International Peace Research Institute previously estimated that the combined US and NATO combat costs in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012 totaled around $ 725 billion.
Researchers at the Foundation for Development Initiatives then used this data to estimate that each soldier deployed to Afghanistan costs approximately $ 450,000 a year.
Using this estimate along with the average NATO troop numbers between 2013 and last year, it is possible to arrive at an overall estimate for NATO combat operations of around $ 825 billion over the course of the war.
The NATO fighting alone is likely to have cost about $ 825 billion, although the cost of rebuilding the country and supporting the Afghan armed forces is far higher. Estimates of these costs range up to trillion dollars (file picture, a gas plant is burning in the city of Herat)
This number is likely to be underestimated, however, as it only covers boots on the ground without considering aid donations and money for rebuilding.
NATO countries fund the Afghan security forces separately each year in the amount of several billion dollars, with 3.4 billion dollars allocated between 2020 and 21.
On the US side, estimates published by the New York Times In 2019, the cost was well over $ 2 trillion.
Some researchers have gone further. An article from Brown University suggests that the true figure is closer to $ 6 trillion.
What did it accomplish?
Osama bin Laden, the architect of the September 11 bombings, is dead – while most of his co-conspirators are either imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay or have also been killed.
The Taliban no longer have control of Afghanistan, which has held five elections since 2004 – the last being the 2019 presidential race.
This led to a controversial vote that narrowly handed Ashraf Ghani victory over his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who formed a parallel government.
The couple finally reached a power-sharing deal in May 2020, with Ghani remaining in the lead, but giving Abdullah control of key ministries and tasking him with negotiating with the Taliban.
However, according to The Economist’s 2020 ranking, it is still one of the least democratic places in the world. It ranks 139th out of 167 countries, alongside Cuba and Venezuela.
The Taliban (delegates pictured in Qatar last year) are officially in peace talks with the Afghan government, but there are few signs of an agreement. With the withdrawal of the US armed forces, attacks on official forces and civilians have increased