If anyone wants to know what Afghanistan will look like whenever the United States finally gives up its meaningless occupation, take one look at Iraq. After 24 years of perpetual American war in Iraq – an invasion, a decade long no-fly zone, international sanctions, a second invasion, an occupation, the overthrow of a dictator and the installation of a puppet democracy – Iraq is anything but stable. Is this really any surprise? Over the past few months the international community has watched a group of Islamic thugs (ISIS) completely overrun the artificial Baghdad government, take possession of millions of dollars’ worth of American-made war material, and stage a number of gruesome public executions. The fact that there are people in the world who behave in such ways is a disgusting tragedy, but the chain of events that has led to such an outcome got a running start with the perpetual meddling in the region. The same recipe has been brewing in Afghanistan for the last 13 years and I expect that whenever the United States finally turns over the country to its inhabitants, parallel chaos will not be far behind it.
When you step off the plane at Bagram Air Base in Northern Afghanistan the first thing you notice (besides the mountains) are the sheer numbers of permanent structures, the hundreds of tons of concrete, and the immense inventory of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that now litter the ground. Tent city and many of the plywood basic huts have long been replaced by rows of three-story steel buildings and permanent structures – what a difference a decade makes! Without question, the present situation is night and day from that of the horse soldiers whose original intent was at least morally justifiable – capture the man allegedly behind September 11th – Osama Bin Laden. Although the second invasion of Iraq sidelined the search for half a decade, it has now been more than three years since Bin Laden was executed and the continued American presence makes one wonder when the referendum on making Afghanistan the 51st state will be. So why hasn’t the United States left and what happens if the United States government ever does decide to come home?