Hours before the Tuesday August 31, 2021, deadline, the last of American troops withdrew from Kabul. Their departure marking the end of the 20-year-old war.
And as the curtain dropped for the longest war in American history, 120,000 people were evacuated to safety. The commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie reported that in the last five flights out of Hamid Karzai International Airport, there were no Americans on board.
In a statement Monday evening, President Joe Biden thanked the American military saying, “We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay but we should never, ever, ever forget.” The success of the mission was not without its challenges as Biden remarked, “Twenty service members were wounded in the service of this mission. Thirteen heroes gave their lives.”
The withdrawal of U.S. troops came after President Joe Biden made the decision to end the war he referred to as “the forever war.” “the assumption was that more than 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces that we had trained over the past two decades and equipped would be a strong adversary in their civil wars with the Taliban,” President Joe Biden said.
His decision has however come under a lot of criticism, with some feeling that his decision was premature. Considering how the events unfolded after that decision, it is easy to agree with critics as Taliban made gains, occupying Afghanistan in totality and on top of that, the Taliban acquired U.S. weaponry. A miscalculation that the president acknowledged in his Monday address, stating, “That assumption-that the Afghan government would be able to hold on for a period of time beyond military drawdown- turned out not to be accurate.
In a way, the president felt betrayed by the Afghanistan’s government when their president fled the country amid corruption and malfeasance, “…handing over the country to their enemy, the Taliban, and significantly increasing the risk to U.S. personnel and our Allies.
It is important to note that not all Americans left Afghanistan. According to President Joe Biden, about 100 and 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan. Some of those left have the intention to leave while others have dual citizenship and are tied to the country by family. All in all, the president said that the U.S. Troops managed to evacuate at least 98 percent of Americans in Afghanistan.
What does it mean for Americans still left in Afghanistan? Americans left in Afghanistan for one reason or the other have no deadline to go home. “In fact, just yesterday the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that sent a clear message about what international community expects the Taliban to deliver on moving forward, notably freedom of travel, freedom to leave.” The commitment of the Taliban is questionable but the president said that the U.S. was collaborating with over 100 countries to ensure that the Taliban upholds this agreement.
Nonetheless, the events leading up to the withdrawal of American troops is likely to be remembered for years to come. The war is a representation of America’s broken promised to Afghanis. The war begun with Taliban at the helm of leadership and end with them still in power.