A DECADE IN AFGHANISTAN: Rethinking American Foreign Policy-From Global to the Homeland by Adeyemi Oshunrinade



The United States launched its offensive on the Taliban and Al Qaeda on October 7, 2001 one month after the terrorist attack on the U.S. that killed about 3,000 Americans and foreign nationals. The invasion brought pandemonium to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, many of the Jihadists including Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden fled to the region between Pakistan and Afghanistan; some stayed with the motive to regroup and fight the invasion and Al Qaeda made its resolution to continue the fight wherever it finds harbor, to attack Western targets, and spread radical Islam.

The beginning of Al Qaeda notoriety can be traced back to the 1980s Jihad against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Militant jihadists and Islamists came to Afghanistan and Pakistan from the Middle East and Africa to support the Afghan Jihad and to help drive out the Soviet forces from Afghanistan. After the Soviet forces were expelled, Afghan Arabs were reshaped in their understanding of Jihad. The Palestinian cleric and former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdullah Azzam, who was instrumental in coordinating the foreign Jihadists in Peshawar, instigated the Jihadists movement with his book ‘Join the Caravan.’ His teachings paved the way for the emergence of a network of committed and battle hardened Jihadists.

Osama Bin Laden, came with his followers to Afghanistan after he was expelled from Sudan in 1996. He arrived to Jalalabad where he met allies from the Era of Soviet invasion who together with him fought to expel the Soviets. On arrival to Afghanistan, Bin Laden did not establish himself in any of the areas controlled by the Taliban and the Northern Alliance however, when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, they also annexed Jalalabad and as a result, the Taliban inherited Bin Laden and gave him harbor. Bin Laden was later able to establish himself and his organization. The events that followed, formed the basis for his terror network and the terrorist attack of 9/11 that led to American and NATO invasion of October 2001.

A decade after the invasion of Afghanistan, my quest is to inquire if Al Qaeda has been able to achieve its goals, if the U.S. is winning the global war on terror, and most importantly, why America should rethink its foreign policies. To find answers, it is essential to know the motives of Al Qaeda and its terror network. The terror war as designed by the perpetrators is to: kill Americans whenever and wherever possible; to damage the economy of the U.S. and Western nations; to create a state of anarchy, chaos, and fear among Americans and Western targets; to spread radical Islam in Western nations; and to rid Arab nations of Western troops.

Ten years since the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq (2003), more than 6,200 American and foreign troops have lost their lives to the war on terror; many are victims of suicide attacks carried out by hardened jihadists, some died as a result of IEDs and many died in combat fighting both Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Also, is the death toll among civilians. As a result of the terror attack of 9/11 about 3,000 Americans and foreign nationals died and many are still getting killed as the war continues in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Considering the numbers, it is obvious Al Qaeda has been able at least to a certain extent, achieve its goal of killing Americans. There is no doubt a link exists between the death toll and the war on terror.

As of October 2011, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is estimated to be at 9.1% so far, this is what Americans are made to believe and accept as the correct number however, it is possible rate of unemployment is higher than 9.1%. The nation is currently in debt and American economy may be in shambles if necessary economic reforms are not adopted as soon as possible. The cost of the war in Afghanistan alone is estimated to be at 8 billion dollars monthly average of about 2 billion dollars a week. The war in Iraq costs the U.S. even more. Since the coalition of nations left Iraq, U.S. troops have remained in the country driving up the cost of war.

Since the invasion of both Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. military budget has gone up dramatically and now one wonders why the commotion in Congress about U.S. budget deficit and increasing the American debt ceiling, in an effort to protect the economy from unwarranted crash. Protests on economic reforms taking place in the Arab nations are now emerging and taking shape in the U.S.

Occupy Wall Street is an indication of what is yet to come and a remembrance that the U.S. is not immune from a challenge to the current economic policies. For the first time, American college graduates are now finding it difficult to find jobs but at the same time deeper in debt due to the college loans. The current economic bubble is exactly what terror is about, it is among the goal of Al Qaeda to destroy U.S. and Western economies and so far, it has achieved that agenda.

Another goal of Al Qaeda and its terror network is to create a state of fear, anarchy, and chaos. Since the event of 9/11, the world has changed. Currently, the U.S. government is spending billions of dollars in trying to protect the homeland, individual lives have changed as well as a result of fear and imminent danger created by terror. A flight from one region of the United States to another is no longer what it used to be, heightened security is evident today in most airports; the aviation industry is forced to change the way business is conducted, metal detectors are used everywhere to check and screen for would be terrorist; as a result of the shoe bomb attempt by Richard Reid, we are now forced to remove our shoes and boots to be screened before boarding a flight, there is a state of fear as predicted by the terror network and not only that, the cost of trying to evade danger is exorbitant.

The U.S. government is not only spending to protect the homeland, foreign aid is also given to countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to help fight terror beyond American border all in an effort to establish tranquillity here in the United States.

So far as predicted, the Al Qaeda network and its Taliban associates have been able to spread radical Islam to the U.S. and the Western nations; more than ever, there are cases of American youths travelling to places like Somalia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to train for Jihad.

The situation is same in the West as youths from as far as the UK and other European nations are joining the insurgents, many have travelled as far as Somalia to train for Jihad in order to attack their homeland and proclaim Islam as the religion of choice for the Western nations. Al Awlaki the American terrorist killed recently in Yemen got his inspiration from Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden; even though, born and educated in the U.S. he chose the part of terror inspired by Al Qaeda. Also, the Pakistani American who attempted to bomb Time Square New York, got his motivation from Al Awlaki and his terrorist network. This is among the goals of Al Qaeda and obviously it is realized.

Another aim of the terror network is to rid the Arab world of Western troops. As of October 2011, there are indications American troops will leave Iraq by end of the year, there is already a draw down in the number of troops in Afghanistan. Afghans are complaining that the U.S. and NATO occupation creates casualties causing opposition to American and NATO presence in the country. Besides, there are claims that military occupation has hampered humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts due to lack of security; NATO allies and military leaders are themselves beginning to question their presence in Afghanistan; Afghans are calling for a negotiated end to war and so far, troops presence has not been able to curb terrorism in its entirety; there is still a large presence of the Taliban and remnants of Al Qaeda in the country.

The recent killing of the head of Afghan Peace Council Burhanuddin Rabbani and the attack on the American embassy in Kabul are all indicative of the widespread of terror in the country and the call for foreign troops to leave. Based on these facts, it is imminent that sooner or later U.S. and NATO troops will exit Afghanistan and then Al Qaeda must have realized its goal to rid the Arab nations of Western troops.

American gains has been its proactive moves in preventing the terror group from attacking the homeland. There has been no major attack in the U.S. since 9/11 and all attempts to attack the homeland failed however, Al Qaeda is still able to proliferate. Also, Al Qaeda has no stable harbor, the network is chased everywhere by the American Drone and as a result it is unable to plan. The leadership is quickly disintegrating and many Al Qaeda members have left Afghanistan for Waziristan in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even so, the network is still hunted by the fear of the American Drone. The killing of Osama Bin Laden early this year dealt a heavy blow on the organization and it may not be able to find a compatible replacement. Whether the U.S is winning the war or not is a question to be answered by history, a stable Afghanistan and Iraq may hold the key to that determination. Likewise, a stable America without fear of terror will justify the conclusion that the U.S. has prevailed in its campaign.

It is time for the United States to rethink its foreign policies, the campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming unpopular; some nations in the Arab world are beginning to see the U.S. as the “world Police.” Our leadership should focus more on the homeland and invest more on securing Americans at home rather than expend too much of American resources abroad or as aids to nations, that later use such funds to directly or indirectly support terror groups.

The U.S. should be careful in selecting its interests, the recent attempt to impose sanctions on Syria was met with a veto by both China and Russia; the issue is why sanction on Syria and not Yemen? Despite the human rights violations recorded in Yemen, the U.S. still gives its support to the Yemeni government headed by Saleh, why? because the U.S. has a great interest in eradicating terror and the government of Saleh is recognized as instrumental in helping to deny safe haven to terrorist groups including Al Qaeda in Yemen. Moreover, the recent killing of the American terrorist Al Awlaki was successful due to cooperation between the U.S. and the government of Saleh.

The U.S. proposed sanction was met with opposition as both Russia and China see the U.S. as trying to protect its own interests leaving the interest of others in jeopardy. China and Russia both have great interests in Syria, they sell arms to the regime of Assad and any sanction regime may obstruct their ability to make deals worth billions of dollars.

To win the war on terror, the U.S must begin to prioritize its policies, the foreign policies must focus more on generating income for the homeland. American troops should be out of Afghanistan and Iraq and the U.S must desist from supporting any regime that uses arms to suppress it own populace irrespective of whether or not the nation is helping in the war on terror. The U.S. cannot continue to establish a global peace at the expense of its own citizens and its economy.

As the U.S continues to fight the war in Afghanistan and Iraq it is helping to create a safe environment for nations like Russia and China to do business and make profits without contributing anything to global peace. So far, there are neither Chinese nor Russian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan however, both nations are enjoying the bounty of American labor and its war on terror. Many Americans are no longer happy with the state of the economy however, Russia and Chinese economy continues to grow. It is high time the focus is shifted from global to the homeland.

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Categories: Afghan Invasion, Afghanistan, Foreign Affairs, Islamic Jihad, Military, Muslim Brotherhood, Ten Years after Invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. War on Terror, United Nations

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