Editor's note: This opinion piece was written during the Fall 2012 Semester in a Journalism class at Radnor High School prior to the Presidential Election.
The US military has been in Afghanistan since 2001. The war was inspired by the September 11th attacks on the US. The goal of the US and their allied forces was to bring down the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda.
"The US tries to be the nice guy in every situation. Obviously with 9/11, we couldn't be nice about it." said Mike Kleinman, a senior at Radnor High School.
It's been 11 years, and plenty of Americans believe the US should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. It already did from Iraq after more than 4000 US soldier deaths and thousands more wounded. Statistics like this validate the fact that many Americans want the US to wind down military operations in the Middle East. Americans believe that the money would be better spent on domestic issues such as the approaching fiscal cliff. To add gas to the fire, there have been many anti-American protests recently in the Muslim world, most notably in Libya when an attack on the US embassy killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three more Americans. It seems to enforce the fact that many of the factions over there do not like us and we should just pull out of the Middle East completely.
It is only common sense that war is wrong. People die. The aggressors were the targets, but so many innocent civilians die as collateral. The US has arguably the strongest military world. Afghanistan has unfortunately had enough of its help. We have paid the price in money, more than $576 billion, and the ultimate price, human lives, at close to 2000.
President Barack Obama installed a plan that will bring back the 33,000 surge troops that were sent there in December of 2009 this past summer. US forces there are being consolidated as they help train the Afghan National Security Forces and have the country's security self-sufficient by 2014. It has been stated by the Obama adminstration that Al-Qaeda has been seriously weakened to the point that it allows the US to pull out as its objectives were achieved.
Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the election has shared a similar view with the president. He expressed this view recently at a veterans convention: "As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014."
The task of a near withdrawal is ulitmately validated by the desires of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He expressed his country's objective at a recent press conference in Kabul with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: "Afghans are ready to expedite the process of transition if necessary, and willing as well, so this is, in all aspects, good news for us and good news for NATO."
Many people just want an immediate end to the war: "We should withdraw now." said Colin Beranek, a senior at RHS.
Some RHS students have a more managerial approach to the situation: "We should take them (Al-Qaeda) out soon. The people, there is so much intensity. The people think much differently over there. The leaders and the Taliban, we should manage them." said Stephen Fay, a senior at RHS.
Not all people only want the US to withdraw. Some want compensation to affected Afghani civilians due to the abusive policies of the Taliban: "We should leave as soon as possible. We should let the people who are being persecuted and tortured by the Taliban to come over to this country." says Emilie Stephanoff
If the upcoming election it to promise real change, the winner will implement a plan to immidiately withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan. 576 billion dollars, nearly 2000 of our brave men and women dead, thousands more wounded and all of their families devastated is the price that has been paid.