Biden announces military withdrawal from Afghanistan. After 20 years of war, 3,500 soldiers leave – there were 100,000 in 2011 – but 160,000 Afghan fatalities remain. And 26,000 Afghan children have been killed or maimed. The real news is not that Biden announces the military withdrawal. The news is not that the United States is leaving. What is painful and bleeding is what the army of the most powerful country on the planet leaves behind. The United States is leaving, but the death, the victims and the pain of the Afghan people remain.
More than 1,250,000 US military personnel have passed through Afghanistan in the last 20 years in a war of 40 million Afghans. To which must be added the mercenaries called “contractors”. According to data from the Pentagon itself, it employs about seven mercenaries for each soldier. Currently their number is around 18,000.
In addition – to reduce social rejection in the United States for more deaths of its soldiers – the Pentagon uses, with increasing frequency in recent years, drones. Drones that have killed many civilians – by shooting at wedding parties, religious gatherings, farmers working in their fields, buses and private cars – cynically called “collateral damage.”
The western media inform us of the exact number of American soldiers killed. But they only give us a rough estimate of the number of Afghan civilians killed during the last 20 years of war. Because Afghan deaths in rural areas – where four out of every five people live – are mostly not counted.
Between 2009 and 2018, about 6,500 children were killed and another 15,000 injured, making Afghanistan one of the deadliest war zones in the world in 2018. An average of nine children were killed or maimed each day between January and September 2019. , according to the UNICEF report ‘Keeping Hope in Afghanistan: Protecting Children from the World’s Deadliest Conflict’.
Afghanistan is potentially one of the most mineral rich countries, with reserves that include gold, copper, lithium, uranium, iron ore, cobalt, zinc, semi-precious stones and gems, natural gas and oil. 20 years later, it is much poorer and less developed and is among the poorest countries in the world.
The country is ranked 157 in a ranking of 192. In other words, its inhabitants are among those with the lowest life expectancy in the world. Life expectancy is 64.49 years. And according to the calculations of the Afghan government itself, between 42% and 55% of the population lives below the poverty line -defined as having less than a dollar a day of income-; and only 64% of the population has access to clean, contamination-free water.
The country has the highest infant mortality rate in the world – 104.25 deaths per 1,000 normal births – and one of the highest illiteracy rates – it ranks 156th out of 164 – according to Index Mundi. Almost 55% of children under 12 years of age suffer from some maturational delay – in their physical or mental growth – mainly due to poor diet. Some 600,000 children under the age of five live in Afghanistan who suffer a significant degree of malnutrition. The 20 years of war have meant that 3,700,000 thousand children are not going to school, and that also especially affects minors who live in rural areas.
And to each Caesar what is his
Trump had already agreed with the Taliban on a military withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 1. Biden has delayed it until next September 11. A date that coincides with the 20th anniversary of the attack on the twin towers, the motive given by the Bush Administration for invading the country. The war in Afghanistan – which officially began on October 7, 2001 – is the longest in US history.
The war has lasted as long as the American Civil War, the war against Spain, the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War combined. The war conflict has cost a trillion dollars. During it, the United States has dropped more bombs on that country than in any of the previous wars.
Biden has acknowledged that he is the fourth American president responsible for his country’s military presence in Afghanistan. What Biden has not remembered is that he was already vice president with Obama, nor that, during his presidency, the Pentagon maintained the maximum number of troops – more than 100,000 -, including the day that Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, the deployment, over the years, has been reduced to the current 3,500. The supposed objective of the endless United States war intervention was to defeat the Taliban, however, today, when the American withdrawal is announced, the Taliban control 46% of the territory of Afghanistan, more than at any other time since the beginning of the invasion in 2001 by the superpower.