In mid-April, President Joe Biden made a historic decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021 and end the war on terror. The conflict, approaching its 20th year, could come to an end as Americans grieve the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
As the longest war in United States’ history, this decision comes after two decades of conflict where 2,312 American troops have died. While each administration since 2001 has had an unwavering commitment to fighting terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, Biden said he would not pass this war onto another president in a speech on April 14.
In February 2020, former President Donald Trump made a deal with the Taliban to withdraw all troops by May 1, 2021, a decision that many Pentagon officials advised him to delay. After Biden followed up on the decision to withdraw troops, some have doubted the feasibility of troops exiting safely in a few months.
The departure from Afghanistan could have unforeseen consequences in the region, including a resurgence of terrorist groups and setback on women’s rights and democratization. Many experts have expressed concern about the state of affairs in Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal, according to The New York Times.
Evan Doran, a senior management information systems major, was hesitant about the reality of a full withdrawal and believes that the lack of progress and direction in this war has been a failure of the U.S. government.
“We have been over there for the duration of my lifetime, and we haven't made discernible progress,” Doran said. “And the fact that our progress can't stand, even now, does not speak well to how much we actually did.”
Despite the length of the war, some students are hopeful that this could end a devastating chapter in the nation’s history.
As a Muslim student, Yasmine Sabere, a freshman finance major, said the events of 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan triggered a rise of Islamophobia in the U.S. She anticipates that less involvement in the region will change Americans' viewpoints.
“I'm glad to see that Biden is pulling troops from that area, because hopefully people can view the Middle East as a place of culture and diversity rather than a place of terrorism,” Sabere said.
Sabere said it is time that American troops took a step back from the Middle East and allowed the region to develop its own economies and culture without American influence.
Fahid Ahmed, a junior management information systems major, is cautiously optimistic about a withdrawal, but said it could also create a power vacuum for the Taliban. After the 20-year attempt to rid Afghanistan of terrorism, Ahmed said withdrawing troops could be seen as a gamble on national security.
Ahmed believes the Biden administration will benefit from helping to build sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
“I think we all want to see a peaceful end to the conflict for Afghans and American troops,” Ahmed said. “But with that said, there's a job to do in the region and we want … to ensure that Afghanistan becomes safer and prosperous again, even though it's suffered through conflict for the past 40 years.”