20 Years After 9/11, America And Afghanistan Have Come Full Circle

Following 9/11, America’s grief is exacerbated by realizing that they have returned to the starting point. President Joe Biden’s “mission accomplished” moment was marred by the fall of the US-backed regime.

The five Taliban held essential roles in the Taliban’s caretaker administration. Each of the five was a Taliban official ousted in retaliation for 9/11. After that, they were exchanged for American deserter Bowe Bergdahl. On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The catastrophic attacks killed almost 3,000 people. The public outrage over the attacks was unprecedented since Watergate or the Great Depression.

President Bush’s initial visit to New York City following 9/11 garnered only 18% of the vote. He inspected the devastation with a bullhorn and addressed rescuers. Giuliani was the first prominent figure to do so. He filled the leadership vacuum created by Bush’s security-related Air Force One trip. Following the 9/11 attacks, Giuliani was hailed as “America’s mayor.” President George W. Bush’s efforts to prolong the war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11 met with intense legislative opposition. Muslims asserted that they were targeted for prejudice. 9/11 conspiracy theories spawned the movement known as “Trutherism.”

Additionally, Biden worked with Republican Sens. Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel to create a compromise resolution that would force Bush to return to Congress for war authorization. Biden voted yes with Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and John Edwards. However, his vote was withdrawn. The Afghan mission increased too, but bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Taliban chief Mullah Omar avoided capture at first. Aiding Afghan girls in school, creating hospitals, and rising cell phone and internet usage became priorities, things Bush had pledged not to do in 2000.

In October 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry extolled Afghanistan’s accomplishments, citing increased life expectancy and technical advancements. In 2001, the country had only one television station, which was government-owned. Today, there are around 18 million cell phones, which cover approximately 90% of residential areas. Additionally, Obama’s first move as president was to increase soldiers in Afghanistan by 30,000. “We did not request this conflict,” Obama remarked of Afghanistan at a 2009 West Point address. In 2014, troops were recalled to Iraq to battle the Islamic State. However, at that time, war-weary had become bipartisan.

Trump has now expressed dissatisfaction with the timeline. By excluding September 11 from the calendar, Republican strategist Ford O’Connell argues that the significance of a tragic event in American history that should be commemorated is diminished. The escape was hastily created. The Taliban quickly seized control of Afghanistan’s security forces. Before conquering Kabul, terrorists rapidly took smaller capitals. United States citizens were encouraged to evacuate. At the airport, despair erupted. Biden’s “fall of Saigon” moment had occurred, despite his denials. A strike on Kabul’s airport resulted in the death of thirteen US personnel and delayed evacuations.

Biden’s distrust of the Afghan government dates back to his 2009 vice-presidential visit. According to the State Department, up to 200 Americans are still missing in Afghanistan. The State Department said it is “haunted” by the judgments it has to make on who to help escape the country. The pictures coming out of Afghanistan have demoralized many veterans.