War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)

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The Taliban has been given the opportunity to surrender all the terrorists in Afghanistan and to close down their camps and operations. Full warning has been given, and time is running out. ~ George W. Bush
It's crazy that you have this today … Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazara … They were all ready to buy in to the process … to work under the king's banner for an ethnically balanced Afghanistan. ~ Abdul Haq

The War in Afghanistan (2001-present) (or the US War in Afghanistan or the Afghanistan War), code named Operation Enduring Freedom (2001–14) and Operation Freedom's Sentinel (2015–present), followed the United States invasion of Afghanistan of 7 October 2001, when the United States of America and its allies successfully drove the Taliban from power in order to deny al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan. Since the initial objectives were completed, a coalition of over 40 countries (including all NATO members) formed a security mission in the country.

Quotes[edit]

Americans were proud to see the images of Afghans- including women- holding up their purple-stained fingers as they went to the polls to "elect" their new government. Democracy had arrived in Afghanistan! Girls were going to school, women were working in government jobs, and religious fanatics were relegated to the hinterlands of the country. Except, as I saw firsthand in 2011- and the world saw ten years later, in the summer of 2021- it was all a mirage. None of it was real; it was a house of cards, destined to collapse. ~ Pete Hegseth
It was not clear how to get at al-Qaida in a way to destroy al-Qaida, and we were not prepared, before 9/11, to take down the Taliban. ~ Colin Powell
If the Taliban is given evidence that Osama bin Laden is involved we would be ready to hand him over to a third country. ~ Haji Abdul Kabir
Despite almost continuous combat since the invasion of October 2001, pacification efforts have failed to curtail the Taliban insurgency, largely because the US simply could not control the swelling surplus from the country’s heroin trade. Its opium production surged from around 180 tonnes in 2001 to more than 3,000 tonnes a year after the invasion, and to more than 8,000 by 2007. Every spring, the opium harvest fills the Taliban’s coffers once again, funding wages for a new crop of guerrilla fighters. ~ Alfred W. McCoy
You know who did not miss the mark? The Taliban. They knew exactly who their people were, their root causes were clear, they were nothing if not sustainable, and they had legitimacy we could never manufacture. ~ Pete Hegseth
After US troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan, Europe must define its own security interests more clearly. It has been seen that America is no longer unconditionally ready to take on a leadership role anywhere in the world. ~ Angela Merkel

2001[edit]

  • Despite efforts by the Taliban to disrupt these critical aid shipments, we will deliver food and seeds, vaccines and medicines by truck, and even by draft animals. Conditions permitting, we will bring help directly to the people of Afghanistan by air drops.

2002[edit]

  • Huey: So colonel, you guys aren’t dropping food anymore? What happened to all that concern about the starving Afghan people?
Pentagon:Yeah, well…they’re not, uh, starving anymore.
Huey: Is that right?
Pentagon: Yep. Hey told us they’re all full now. Couldn’t eat another bite.
Huey: Amazing, I wonder what was in those food packets.
Pentagon: Well, that’s classified but…let’s just say a snickers really satisfies…

2004[edit]

  • The report drawn up by the commission's staff said: "From the spring of 1997 to September 2001, the US government tried to persuade the Taliban to expel Bin Laden to a country where he could face justice. The efforts employed inducements, warnings and sanctions. All these efforts failed."
    At a meeting of the Bush administration's top national security officials on September 10, a three-phase strategy was agreed.
    The Taliban would be presented with a final ultimatum to hand over Bin Laden. Failing that, covert military aid would be channeled to anti-Taliban groups. If both those options failed, "the deputies agreed that the United States would seek to overthrow the Taliban regime through more direct action."
  • We did not take into account during that period the kind of actions we were prepared to follow after 9/11, tt was not clear how to get at al-Qaida in a way to destroy al-Qaida, and we were not prepared, before 9/11, to take down the Taliban. [...] President Bush and his entire national security team understood that terrorism had to be among our highest priorities, and it was.
  • A retired army colonel commissioned by the Pentagon to examine the war in Afghanistan concluded the conflict created conditions that have given "warlordism, banditry and opium production a new lease on life," The New Yorker reported on Sunday.
    • Hy Rothstein, The New Yorker, (Sunday, 3 April 2004); as quoted in Channel news Asia archived from the original on (2004-04-05).

2007[edit]

  • Through the midwestern United States, Kansas and the central states, there have been hundreds of tornadoes one after the other for days, leaving paths of destruction 400 miles wide and killing many people. These are called acts of nature, acts of God. But they are in this case a result of the Law of Karma. The crisis that manifested itself as the SARS infection in China and elsewhere, for example, the epidemics of flu throughout Europe, are the direct results of the fear generated from the crisis conditions set up by the US attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. It is not a question of God punishing the aggressor. It is a simple law of the interconnectedness of all atoms in the universe. What happens here sets up something that will inevitably happen elsewhere by the law of action and reaction. When humanity truly understands this law, the Law of Karma, not just as an intellectual idea, it will see that every thought, every action, sets into motion a cause or causes. The effects stemming from these causes make our lives for good or ill. The need for harmlessness in every action in our lives becomes apparent. When we act, we have to know what the result of this action could be. If the action is destructive, it produces destruction in the world. If the action is not destructive, if it is creative, if it is harmless, it creates harmlessness, it creates good in the world. p. 11-12

2010[edit]

See also: Operation Moshtarak

2011[edit]

2015[edit]

2016[edit]

2017[edit]

2018[edit]

  • After fighting the longest war in its history, the US stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How could this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for more than 16 years – deploying more than 100,000 troops at the conflict’s peak, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,300 soldiers, spending more than $1tn (£740bn) on its military operations, lavishing a record $100bn more on “nation-building”, helping fund and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies – and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations?
  • Despite almost continuous combat since the invasion of October 2001, pacification efforts have failed to curtail the Taliban insurgency, largely because the US simply could not control the swelling surplus from the country’s heroin trade. Its opium production surged from around 180 tonnes in 2001 to more than 3,000 tonnes a year after the invasion, and to more than 8,000 by 2007. Every spring, the opium harvest fills the Taliban’s coffers once again, funding wages for a new crop of guerrilla fighters.
  • For over a decade after the fall of the Taliban regime in December 2001, China preferred to be a mere spectator of the dramatic events unfolding in Afghanistan. Unlike other countries, which sent troops to participate in counterinsurgency operations and contributed financial and other support for reconstruction of the war-ravaged country, Beijing maintained a low profile.
    China did not send troops to Afghanistan as it was not interested in being a “subordinate partner” of the U.S.-led alliance in that country. Besides, its goals in Afghanistan were “limited,” Zhao Huasheng, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai pointed out. Unlike the Western powers, China was not interested in “rebuilding Afghanistan politically” or in altering its “political structures, social patterns or ideological orientations.”
    While China avoided participating in multilateral efforts in Afghanistan in the 2002-12 period, it maintained close ties with the Afghan government. It signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighborly Relations with Kabul in 2006. Two years later, Chinese companies won a $3 billion contract to extract copper from the Mes Aynak mines in Logar province.
    It was in the context of the U.S. drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and the possibility of the country descending into chaos that China began stepping up its involvement in Afghan affairs in 2012.

2020[edit]

  • Rep. Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick, is trying to prolong her father's endless war in Afghanistan. You would think that every Democrat would be united in opposing such a policy, right? Well, you would be wrong. It’s not every day that you wake up in your blue state and learn that one of your newly elected Democratic congresspeople is joining with a Cheney to try to prolong the longest war in American history. But that’s what happened this week, when Colorado's freshman Democratic Rep. Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Rep. Liz Cheney to advance legislation that would make it more difficult for any president to draw down troop deployments in Afghanistan. I live in the same media market as Crow's district. I can tell you that his 2018 campaign was focused on gun control. It was not a campaign promising voters that he would go to Washington to make common cause with Liz Cheney, and help her efforts to glorify and fortify her daddy's policy of endless war. But that’s exactly what his bill does. [...] Cheney initiatives that may seem superficially reasonable when calmly uttered by a Cheney usually have an insane ulterior motive. In this case, that truism applies: The Crow-Cheney legislation may sound like it includes reasonable requests, but they are designed to make the Afghanistan deployment permanent. In practice, nobody can predict with 100 percent certainty what will ensue once a nineteen-year military occupation ends. What we can know is that it’s a bad idea to continue a policy that isn’t working — and there’s plenty of evidence that it isn’t.

2021[edit]

  • After US troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan, Europe must define its own security interests more clearly. It has been seen that America is no longer unconditionally ready to take on a leadership role anywhere in the world.

Post-war (2022-)[edit]

  • During the writing of this book, America's two-decade war in Afghanistan came to an inglorious end. After thousands of lives lost, and trillions of dollars spent, the Islamist Taliban are back in charge. It's a humbling, if illuminating, reality. Like most Americans, I was eager for "the folks who knocked those buildings down, to hear all of us soon," as President George W. Bush said atop the rubble of the World Trade Center in 2001. American military might quickly toppled the Taliban, and Al Qaeda scurried into Pakistan. What followed was a nineteen-year experiment in Afghanistan, during which I had a front-row seat.
    • Pete Hegseth, Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation (New York: Broadside Books, 2022), p. 54-55
  • Americans were proud to see the images of Afghans- including women- holding up their purple-stained fingers as they went to the polls to "elect" their new government. Democracy had arrived in Afghanistan! Girls were going to school, women were working in government jobs, and religious fanatics were relegated to the hinterlands of the country. Except, as I saw firsthand in 2011- and the world saw ten years later, in the summer of 2021- it was all a mirage. None of it was real; it was a house of cards, destined to collapse.
    Why? Conventional answers abound: the Afghan Army was built in the image of the American Army, unable to operate effectively without air support. Or the Afghan government was irredeemably corrupt and beholden to Western aid. Or, my personal favorite, "the Americans have the watches, but we [the Taliban] have the time"- American political will was destined to break. (Osama bin Laden did predict as much.) All of these explanations touch on aspects of America's failure, but none explain the deeper reason. For two decades of work to collapse in two weeks, something more fundamental was at play.
    • Pete Hegseth, Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation (New York: Broadside Books, 2022), p. 55
  • When I served in Afghanistan, my job- as a counterinsurgency instructor- was to study the insurgency, meaning the Taliban. In short, we taught both Americans and Afghans that they needed to know the terrain, especially the human terrain. Who is our enemy? What motivates them? And how to they leverage and/or exploit the population? From there, we looked at the "root causes" of population grievances that our enemy was experiencing. Finally, our job was to find sustainable solutions that advanced the legitimacy of the Afghan Army, police, and government. Know the human terrain, identify root causes for problems, find sustainable solutions, and legitimize our allies. It sounded great, and I knew how to teach the hell out of it.
    But, as it turns out, we always missed the mark on all aspects of what we taught. You know who did not miss the mark? The Taliban. They knew exactly who their people were, their root causes were clear, they were nothing if not sustainable, and they had legitimacy we could never manufacture.
    • Pete Hegseth, Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation (New York: Broadside Books, 2022), p. 55-56
  • Ideas like religious freedom, freedom of speech, natural rights, and equal justice are the exception in human history, not the rule. They were gifted to us by previous generations. So, when we attempt to replace core aspects of Afghan paideia with our own over just two decades (a blip in human history), it is doomed to fail. If anything, it only strengthens the Afghan paideia- fortifying their belief in the supremacy of their system.
    • Pete Hegseth, Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation (New York: Broadside Books, 2022), p. 56-57

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