After he announced his decision in April to withdraw forces by September, Biden said the U.S. would maintain an “over the horizon” capability to step back into Afghanistan if needed to counter terrorists.
But America’s mission in Afghanistan, realistically or not, was long pitched as being about more than going after the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Aid workers and contractors, backed by American and NATO military forces, poured billions of dollars into infrastructure projects and efforts to wean Afghan farmers off poppy production, the basis of the opium trade.
The foreign military presence also helped open up more space for girls and women, whose plight under the Taliban’s previous rule was roundly condemned and whose futures have never looked so precarious.
It was not just America’s longest war, but a costly one as well — four presidents in succession spent nearly $1 trillion on a far-off conflict that killed about 2,400 American soldiers, but none until now found a way to leave. In justifying his withdrawal, Biden said there was little to be gained from staying longer.
That was a perspective the Taliban knew they could capitalize on if they could sustain themselves. And over 20 years, they rebuilt themselves despite an American troop presence that swelled to 100,000 at one point.
Originally Appeared Here