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Independence for all

The war in Afghanistan has gone on my entire life. Growing up, I never knew what the U.S. was fighting over, yet I still never questioned the war. Now, two decades into the war, with the end finally here, I still feel the same empty feeling about all of the death and destruction that our army brought to the Middle East. I am glad that President Joe Biden decided to leave Afghanistan, but I need there to be something to fill this emptiness I feel post-war.

With the Taliban now in power, any of the so-called progress that the U.S. made is now in shambles. Women are faced with new threats of violence and oppression. Anyone who speaks out against the Taliban-imposed Sharia law could also face violence and death.

In many ways, actually, Afghanistan is now worse off. People might take this as a reason to justify staying in Afghanistan, but it’s actually a reason to stop invading countries in the first place.

Afghanistan has been invaded by different groups for thousands of years. Most recently, the U.K., the U.S.S.R., and the U.S. have had direct involvement in the demise of Afghanistan. And although this may be hard to hear, the creation of the Taliban is really the fault of the people who invaded Afghanistan, including the U.S.

According to BBC, the Taliban was generally welcomed when it first made its appearance in Afghanistan. The Taliban, which means “students” in Pashto, was made up of students from conservative Islamic schools funded with Saudi money. The Taliban wanted to drive out the Mujahadeen, which were taking over Afghanistan after the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The Taliban wanted Afghanistan to return to peace, stability, and Sharia law after communist ties to the U.S.S.R. failed.

Of course, as the Taliban grew more powerful and more conservative, their adherence to ultra-traditional Sharia law turned into beheadings and other public executions. By the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Taliban was easy to blame despite having at best a tenuous connection to the destruction of the Twin Towers.

Then, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan for basically no reason. According to Brown University, the US was able to drive out extremist groups and protect some human rights, but 241,000 Afghanis died in the war. None of our efforts to bring democracy to Afghanistan have worked, as we can see now.

There is little the U.S. can do now if we adhere to our current policy of leaving Afghanistan alone. Even if we did do something, it would contribute to the history of invasion, and it would ultimately leave Afghanistan in another vulnerable position with another failed government.

I believe that the best thing to do now is to accept Afghani refugees and to watch what the Taliban does. According to CNN reporter Frida Ghitis, the Taliban has promised it will not make Afghanistan a “terrorist haven,” and it will not participate in human rights abuse. However, there is evidence that these promises are holding up and also falling through, so we need more time to see if the Taliban can be a tolerable situation for Afghanistan.

I believe that the people of Afghanistan want a stable but independent country, like we do. That cannot be possible with constant U.S. invasion, but it cannot be possible with terrorism either. Somehow, the U.S. needs to figure out a way to help the people of Afghanistan without storming in with troops. Somehow, we need to bring peace to an impossible situation, and sometimes that means leaving it alone until we know more.