End of America’s 20-year-war in Afghanistan

Thursday, 2021-09-09 17:50:04
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US President Joe Biden salutes during the dignified transfer of the remains of U.S. Military service members killed by a suicide bombing at the Hamid Karazi International Airport, at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, US, August 29, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – “The war in Afghanistan is now over,” US President Biden declared from the White House ahead the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The US President came good on his campaign promise to end the US military presence in Afghanistan in the America's longest war.

Before the September 11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago, not many Americans knew about Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda while the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) organisation had not yet emerged.

The great collapse of New York’s Twin Towers led to a dramatic shift in Americans' attitudes and concerns about safety and threats within the US.

Under pressure from public opinion after the terrorist attacks, the US Congress passed a series of new acts and laws, such as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which permits the President to carry out attacks on terrorist threats, and the Patriot Act, which gives more oversight to federal agencies to combat terrorism and protect national security.

In October 2001, President George W. Bush declared the war on terror in Afghanistan, which Washington accused of providing sanctuary for terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. In March 2003, Washington expanded its military presence in the Middle East, attacked the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and plunged itself into a lengthy war involvement in Afghanistan.

Over the past two decades, the US military has also expanded its anti-terrorism front throughout the regions, confronting many organisations, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestine, and IS in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in May 2011. But so far, the war on terror triggered by Washington in the anger of Americans after the September 11 has not yet stopped.

The 20-year war in Afghanistan has cost the US trillions of dollars and claimed the lives of thousands of soldiers. In a speech on August 31, President Biden announced the end of the war to focus resources on more prominent issues facing the US.

Although countering terrorism remains a top international security goal of the US, Washington no longer prioritises the use of military force, but will address terrorist threats around the world through its intelligence and communications network, its coordination with allies, and local partners.

September 11 terrorist attacks by the numbers:

* 2,977 people were killed. At the World Trade Centre (WTC) site in Lower Manhattan, 2,753 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the North and South Towers, or as a result of the crashes. At the Pentagon in Washington, 184 people were killed when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building. Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, 40 passengers and crew members aboard United Airlines Flight 93 died when the plane crashed into a field.

* US$123 billion - Estimated economic loss during the first 2-4 weeks after the attacks.

* US$1.3 billion – Cleanup costs. At Ground Zero, the total cost of cleanup was US$750 million with 3.1 million hours of labor cleaning up 1.8 million tonnes of debris.

* US$40 billion - Value of the emergency anti-terrorism package approved by the US Congress on September 14, 2001.

* US$15 billion - Aid package passed by Congress to bail out the airlines.

* US$8 trillion - Costs of the 20-year US war on terror, according to a report from the Costs of War project at Brown University.