By Ryan Chou
20 years after the most awful terrorist attack in American history on September 11, 2001, the United States has pulled out of its longest war in history. Started under George W. Bush to focus on finding Osama bin Laden and bring down the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Operation Enduring Freedom marked the rise of America’s presence in Afghanistan when airstrikes bombed Kabul on October 7, 2001. After losing over 2,400 American soldiers and over 40,000 Afghani civilians, the Taliban continues to freely operate in Afghanistan.
Following the 9/11 attacks, President Bush listed a series of demands to the Taliban in an address to Congress, which included handing over all Al-Qaeda operatives and Osama bin Laden. When these demands were not met, American forces were sent to Afghanistan, and while the Taliban quickly lost control over the state, Osama bin Laden made it to Pakistan by the time his presence in Afghanistan was tracked down in 2001.
While the United Nations tried to put together a government to replace the Taliban and was backed by almost $40 billion in American aid, it’s head, Hamid Karzai, rose to controversy over corruption and fraud allegations. Unfortunately, just 10 days after the United States started it’s final push to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban took over Kabul, locking down the power dynamic in their favor, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country.
As hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens flee from the cesspool of likely Taliban persecution, the end of the war brings its devastating impacts into focus. The war lasted into four American presidencies, with Bush, Obama, and Trump all flipping between dumping and boosting troop presence in the area, none of them seeing it through with ending the war. Now that the Taliban is building its power structure in Afghanistan and refugees are being displaced around the world, the future remains uncertain for those now dealing with the changes.