Afghanistan Would Be Better Off If It Had Been Left Alone – OpEd


The scenes of people desperately trying to board planes in Kabul, Afghanistan, hanging from and even falling from landing gear, are reminiscent of past United States exits, most notably from Vietnam. Yet these images should not be surprising nor should they change anyone’s views about the terror that the U.S. brought to that country. The turmoil in present day Afghanistan is the end result of more than 40 years of U.S. involvement and it should not be discussed without an analysis of that history.

Liberals in this country, even those who had expressed opposition to the war, now show themselves as imperialists, and in the case of Afghanistan claim concern for the treatment of women in advocating for a never ending war. They should point out that the U.S. is responsible for bringing the Taliban as a political group into existence, and thereby ended the substantial gains that had been made for Afghan women under a secular government.

U.S. involvement in Afghanistan began in the 1970s when Jimmy Carter was president. A left wing Afghan government came to power in 1978 and sought help and support from the Soviet Union. This simple statement of fact disappeared from the official narrative and most Americans know nothing about it. Instead there were tales of Soviet invasion and non-existent chemical weapons attacks. The Carter administration poured millions of dollars into the country and used Islamists as proxies to fight the Soviets.

Ronald Reagan was next and he greeted Afghan members of the mujahideen in the white house in 1983. Various Islamist factions in Afghanistan and later U.S. puppet president Hamid Karzai were recipients of money and weapons from Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. 

Osama bin Laden, said to be the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, was among those who profited from Washington’s largesse. But he was never an ally , “For us, the idea was not to get involved more than necessary in the fight against the Russians, which was the business of the Americans, but rather to show our solidarity with our Islamist brothers.”

Americans were told that the Taliban, some of the same people who benefited from U.S. help, were responsible for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. None of the people identified as operatives were from Afghanistan and no one could prove direct involvement from that country. The trauma to the nation and state propaganda were a potent mix and there was near universal support for the invasion. Barbara Lee of California was the only member of congress to vote against it.

Soldiers born after the occupation began were old enough to deploy before the ignominious exit. President after president sent drones and bombs which killed civilians. Defense contractors made billions of dollars. An entire generation accepts that this country has the right to invade and occupy at will. The damage done to this country’s politics and to the anti-war movement has been enormous.

Of course, Afghanistan suffered the most with an estimated 47,000 civilians losing their lives as a result of the U.S. attack. Wars kill, maime, create refugees, and destroy infrastructure. They insidiously trap the targeted nation into a state of dependency on the aggressor. Of course many Afghans have worked for the U.S. military and contractors since 2001. Some of them were so terrified that they died in their effort to escape when the Taliban entered Kabul.

The chaos seen in the media should cause a wholesale rejection of imperialist interventions. The very premise of this war and every other war should be called into question but very few people in this country are truly anti-imperialist. They approve of U.S. violence committed around the world as long as the rationale is something they can accept. Arguments in favor of humanitarian intervention work all too well on the uninformed.

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan should not be dismissed as merely a mistake and no one should be sorry that it is winding down. It was the ultimate act of cynicism, a war crime, and no one should try to defend it. Nor should anyone defend the presidents and members of congress who vote for defense spending that is now more than 60% of the discretionary budget. There are many guilty parties in this story.

Afghanistan would be better off if it had been left alone to resolve its own issues. The same is true for every other country the United States claims to be helping. When presidents, and corporate media op-eds, and congress, and think tanks make the case for war, the rest of us must reject their arguments out of hand. Let us not forget Afghanistan when we are told to support sanctions, drone strikes, or boots on the ground anywhere else.

Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley's is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. Her work can also be found at and on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)"

4 thoughts on “Afghanistan Would Be Better Off If It Had Been Left Alone – OpEd

  • August 20, 2021 at 8:23 am

    I can understand your opinion, but do disagree. In this 20 years, American aid and help has nurtured millions of Afghans, who have a horiozon far beyond what is happening to them. They including the girls have benefitted by the education programmes and other facilities that the US presence has been able to provide. Let us hope that a new generation will emerge, who will help wean Afghanistan from the extremist hell that it has become. I am sure that all the sacrifices have not been in vain. While US is going through a period of self flagellation, there are many who remember the good it has done.

    • August 20, 2021 at 3:16 pm

      This comment is not personal, it is an answer strictly to the comment. Americans are fed bull when ever they want to experiment with the arms they buy from Raytheon and others. The destruction America brought to Afghanistan supersedes the benefits they brought to this country. Not only to Afghanistan but to the American nation. Trillions of dollars spent and thousands of young man and women lost their lives just to keep the arms manufacturers producing more and more dangerous arms. They did not pay for this war, the soldiers who lost their lives and the wounded paid with their lives. Remember, when the wounded were asked to pay $1,50 for their meals at Reed Hospital? A disgrace to say the least. Yes, they reversed the charges after the outcry of the public. Iraq, Libya and Syria have been destroyed, ,or this last one, what good the US brought to those nations? Is 50,000 Afghani, thousands more in above mentioned nations killed, some whole families decimated. is that the progress America brought to this nations? What nation US invaded and improved the lives of those nations since the II World War? Can anyone imagen if that sum of money were spent domestically what would have been for the American citizens?

      • August 21, 2021 at 10:11 am

        Afghanistan faced more improvement in internet usage,gdp per capital,average life expectancy and many more under US occupation than in all previous Afghan regimes combined.
        I am not justifying US Imperialism or defending the Military Industrial Complex that drives US foreign policy since the 19th century,and you might argue that America will be better served if those improvements happened in say Detroit instead of Kabul or Herat,but to dismiss the effect of US occupation is intellectual dishonesty.

        • August 22, 2021 at 6:25 pm

          Perhaps we tell the more than 100,000 Afghan citizens who perished, in some instances whole clans being decimated by the Americans and its Allies….. I do know what it means foreign occupation, my birth country is being illegally occupied since 1913. My birth place from approximately 800 citizens, today all is left 6 original citizens, because of the treatment of the occupiers. In any way, I will not dwell on this issue at this moment. .


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