The time for peace may be just around the corner.
Over Memorial Day weekend, President Barack Obama visited the troops in Afghanistan and shortly afterwards announced his plans to bring the war to an end.
“The bottom line is, it is time to turn the page on a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Obama said during his announcement at the White House.
There are currently more than 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, according to a report by Time Magazine. The plan is that by the end of this year, only 9,800 troops will remain in the country to ease the transition out of war, and all troops will be removed by the end of 2016.
The war in Afghanistan began in October, 2001. For many Seattle University students, the war has been going on for most of their lives.
“My thoughts on the war are pretty mixed,” said sophomore Tim O’Connor. “I do see the necessity of the war, especially with everything that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban did and threatened to do; however, I do not see why we have been such a force in that country in terms of longevity and what we have actually been able to accomplish.”
Sophomore Maggie Gorini had some mixed thoughts on the war as well.
“It was a great thing for Americans’ national pride and solidarity but it was a lost opportunity for a peaceful response,” Gorini said. “We have come a long way in fighting Al-Qaeda and we have taken out Bin Laden—but for what? There are always more men to replace men lost. The United States chose a violent path to handle its problems and I am disappointed.”
Over the course of the war, over 2,000 American troops were killed in Afghanistan, along with
Talks of ending the war have taken place on multiple occasions, including Obama’s 2007 promise to end the war during his presidential campaign. But year after year, occupation of Afghanistan by U.S. military persisted.
“We were promised an end so many times, but my uncle keeps getting sent back again and again to Afghanistan and Iraq,” said sophomore Lexie Rodriguez. “He comes back more and more negatively affected by the war, and it makes me mad because people keep promising it will end, but I don’t see much of an end in sight.”
The 9,800 troops that will remain will have a mission to counter terrorism and train the Afghan security forces so that the U.S. can leave the country in their hands. But before this plan takes place, the U.S. will look to Afghan president Hamid Karzai to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement to provide legal protection for all of the remaining troops. Although the document has not yet been signed, both of the candidates that are running to replace the current president have agreed to sign the agreement once they take office.
Obama has received a great deal of criticism for his plan to end the war, mostly from members of the Republican Party who believe the timetable is too aggressive and that it is necessary to keep troops in the country longer. However, this war has already lasted longer than expected and has continued to increase the national debt. Obama addressed these concerns during a speech at the White House Rose Garden.
“We have struck significant blows against Al-Qaeda’s leadership, we have eliminated Osama bin Laden, and we have prevented Afghanistan from being used for attacks against our homeland,” Obama said. “We have to recognize that Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not the United States’ responsibility to make it one.”