To leave or not to leave Afghanistan – that is the question


Last weekend the Taliban stroke again when Australia announced, together with other countries, that they are starting to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. This Tuesday, just a few days after the attacks in Kabul, Reuters reported that 170 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned by the Taliban. Is it really the right time to withdraw the foreign troops in Afghanistan?

First we had Iraq, now Afghanistan. Military forces established in Afghanistan to restore peace and protect the civilians from the Taliban terrorist group have been sent from countries around the world, from Australia to Sweden. National debates have been held periodically, discussing the actual utility the foreign military troops have in Afghanistan. Is the present of the forces causing the troops themselves more damage than it does good to the Afghan people?

In an article from Nick Kristoff in the New York Times last week he discussed the fact that the suicidal rate of young war veterans is higher than the actual number of soldiers killed in combat. The after-care of those returning from areas like Iraq and Afghanistan seems much more costly, money-wise as well as emotionally, than the actual good the troops do in the conflict areas. Is it really up to the outside world to protect people from each other within a sovereign state? Did the Kosovo Albanians receive any support from the outside world when the Serbs attacked in the 90’s? Or the Tutsis when slaughtered by the Hutus? Why would USA, Denmark, Australia, Sweden and Spain etc. care about helping the Afghan population against the Taliban rebels today?

The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai seems to agree with the Chairman of Afghanistan High Peace Council, Salahuddin Rabbani when he earlier this week stated that the Afghan peace process has to be led by the nation itself. Even the general public opinion of Afghanistan is pro withdraw of the foreign forces which makes the execution of this pullout in 2014 nothing but fair to all parts involved.

However, after the recent Taliban rebels stroke last weekend and due to the 170 poisoned schoolgirls the worldwide public opinion exploded in the social media. Tweets pitying the Afghan civilians while questioning the withdrawing of foreign troops were sent from the U.K to Iran. Will Afghanistan manage to fight the rebels by themselves fast enough, before more children get hurt, women being raped and houses burned to the ground? And the social media does have a great impact on the government and the soldiers. Public arguments like these could make national defence department change their minds, for populist reasons, and decide to keep the foreign troops in Afghanistan after 2014. In owe to keep women and children of Afghanistan safe our young soldiers would take the bullets and the question of if a child’s life is more valuable than a soldier’s arise. Of course these crimes towards civilians are horrible and in a perfect world should never be accepted but this isn’t really a burden to put upon the 800 Swedish soldiers from the Nordic Battle Group for example, or on the American troops that already suffered enough by sending their young boys into misery in Iraq for that matter. This is for the Afghan people to solve, as they argue themselves. And if they can’t, then this matter should be handled by UN military forces that are specialized in these kind of complex conflicts. It’s of no concern of countries all over the world to play the Good Samaritan hence of pity sending young men directly from the basic military service out to open war. The result will foremost affect the countries of which the soldiers come from when parents, friends and the national health care institutions become the ones responsible to patch up the physically and psychologically damaged young soldiers after they’ve returned home.

by Linn Andersson, Danira Milosevic, Angela Gutierrez Moreno and Jesus Alcantara Landa

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