Multi Modal Essay
The War in Iraq and Afghanistan
September 11, 2001 will be a day that no one will ever forget. On this day 19 militant hijackers associated with the Islamic extremist group, al-Qaeda, high jacked four airplanes. Two of the planes were flown into the Twin Towers, one was flown to Washington D.C and hit the Pentagon, and the last one ended up in a field in Pennsylvania. During this attack over 3,000 people were killed and four hundred of those were fire fighters and police officers. Now, ten years later, our president, Barack Obama has announced the ending of the war all together. Before I go any further, I came across a youtube video from 2008 that discusses President Obama's decision to end the war by 2010. This video was from three years ago but what he says is going to happen during the process of ending the war is exactly what is happening now, only a year after he planned on having all troops out of Iraq.
Ending of the Iraqi War
This just proves that though President Barack Obama had the intentions of ending the war a year ago he was a little late. When President Obama was elected into office in November of 2008, he declared three months later that by the summer of 2010 our troops would be brought home. When the summer of 2010 came Obama's opinion changed completely and he was quoted saying, "time to turn the page" on Iraq and put the focus back on building back up the United States. The only problem I see is that the U.S made the decision to involve itself in the problems Iraq is experiencing with its government and now our president can't decide whether to bring the troops home or worry about our economy here. Now that Osama bin Laden is dead our troops have no reason to be there anymore and should have been brought home after his death because since then more people have been killed and Americans have spent more money on nothing. The thing that worries most Americans is that if in 2008 when President Obama told us he was bringing our troops home by the summer of 2010, how can we believe him now when he says that our troops will be home by the end of this year? While asking myself this question I did some research and though our troops will be leaving Iraq they may be sent to Afghanistan where there is still currently a war between the U.S and Afghanistan. Now that Obama has plans on bringing our troops home from Iraq he has other things to deal with in Afghanistan, he has pledged to end U.S combat roll in Afghanistan within three years. October 7, 2011, the U.S led war in Afghanistan marked its 10th year, having passed two milestones: The Taliban has been forced out of power and Osama bin Laden is dead. Though our troops have been in Afghanistan for ten years, there's no sign of our troops coming home any time soon. Lately there have been many high-profile attacks, such as, the assassination of Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani last month. With these types of attacks still happening in Afghanistan it is raising many questions by the U.S and is jeopardizing our peace negotiations with the country. Rabbani was killed by a Taliban negotiator who he was supposed to meet with in Kabul. This attack became a reminder that the Taliban regime, who the U.S has been trying to topple for the past 10 years, is still capable of carrying out strikes in even the most fortified sections of the capital. This killing very well may keep our troops in Afghanistan even longer.
With Presient Rabbani dead, the Taliban now has the opportunity to take over the Afghan government and many western leaders do not doubt that this will be the case. Taliban, are students of religious seminaries who have existed in Afghanistan long before modern schools existed. The beginning goals of the Taliban were to disarm the country, end lawlessness and enforce the Islamic law on a united Afghanistan. In June of 2011, the International Crisis Group reported that the Taliban had expanded in the south and southeast to central-eastern provinces. This is just proof that the Taliban is capable of expansion and of being in control of other countries. The Taliban are people who most are afraid of because of how powerful they are and how they are not scared of killing people. Pictured below is of Taliban insurgents in front of a burning German military vehicle in northern Kunduz Province.
The war between the U.S and Afghanistan has now become a war between the United States and the Taliban. The Taliban is now recruiting non-Afghan soldiers to fight against our American soldiers.Having this Taliban influence in Afghanistan is only causing more pain and trouble for the people of Afghanistan and it's only getting worse. Corruption and cooperation with the Taliban reach the highest levels of local governance. Widespread abuse of power from simple shakedowns to outright collusion with the Taliban will very likely outlive U.S military combat. Also having a reconciliation between the U.S and Afghanistan will be hard to achieve after nine years of war (Cohen 11). As Afghanistan is failing to do any better, Obama tries to shed some light on these problems by proving that the military has done a great job in Afghanistan and that they are ready to be brought home. In my opinion I think that our troops should have been sent home a long time ago and that since we have been in Afghanistan and Iraq we have only made problems worse. It's not our job to be involved in another country's problems when we should be worrying about our own here, like our economy and how it's falling.
Treatment of Soldiers
This brings me to another problem that not just me but most American's are having with our troops being in Afghanistan and Iraq, the way they are being treated there and when they return home. "In a 2006 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that one-third of US military personnel from the war in Iraq accessed mental health services after they returned home. Among 222,620 Iraq veterans, 31 percent had at least 1 outpatient mental health visit within the first year postdeployment, while the annualized rate of such services was 35 percent.”(Mitchell 2). This statistic stuck out to me because it's clear that soldiers who came back with PTSD did not always receive the treatment they needed. This also shows that many troops are coming back with PTSD and not many of them are getting help. Thinking more about this situation I came across a study of troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan who have experienced some form of PTSD, whether it be alone or the problems they have had in relationships or parenting since returning. In this study, the participants who have children reported significant concerns about impairments in parenting. These participants then went on to say they would rather go through family therapy instead of therapy alone, in order to deal with the PTSD together (Daniel 49). I enjoyed reading about this study because it showed that troops with families are more willing to get help so they don't ruin relationships between them and their family. As I was thinking to myself about the treatment of these soldiers when they return home I knew I'd have to do research on how they were being treated overseas. I came across an article where a doctor was quoted saying, “Pain needs to be consistently assessed and treated all the way across the continuum of care, from that initial point of injury all the way down the road.", he later went on to say that as of lately the methods of treating and following a patient from the time of injury until they are fully healed has been lacking. If any other person experienced an injury such as tearing your ACL, they would be at the doctor continuously until they were completely healed, so my question is why should it be any different for soldiers? Just because they are coming back from a different country doesn't mean their care should stop once they return to the U.S.
Continuing War in Afghanistan
Though the war in Iraq will be coming to an end by December of this year, the war in Afghanistan will still be continuing for the next three years. As I was thinking to myself about how if the troops in Iraq are able to be sent home why can't the troops in Afghanistan be sent home I found a video from May of this year petitioning the end of the war. This video was made after Osama bin Laden's death.
I completely agree with these people who are trying to petition the end of the war, I never once thought our troops should even be in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place. I never saw the point in reacting to the terrorist attacks in the first place, yes hundreds of people in the U.S died from the attack but what gives us the right to go and kill their people? It makes us look just as bad as them, clearly we are no better than the Iraqis or the people of Afghanistan. When President Bush sent us to Iraq to help "create" a government for their people he was stepping on their territory and that is why they've reacted so negatively towards us, because it's not our place to fix another country's problems. Since being in the war we have spent billions of dollars and lost thousands of U.S citizens and what can we say we've accomplished really? We have attempted to establish a government in another country that isn't our own while our economy here is diminishing. While thinking about how I felt I had to do research on how other people felt and I came across a quote from an article that really stood out to me, "...there is little reason to believe that the continuing commitment of tens of thousands of troops on a sprawling nation-building mission in Afghanistan will make America safer." I agree with this 100%, nothing we are doing over there is making here any safer. We have more important needs at home like high unemployment and the flood of foreclosures while we are spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan. After everything our country has been through I think it's finally time to get our troops home.
Daniel W. King, et al. "PTSD Symptom Increases In Iraq-Deployed Soldiers: Comparison With
Nondeployed Soldiers And Associations With Baseline Symptoms, Deployment
Experiences, And Postdeployment Stress." Journal Of Traumatic Stress 23.1 (2010):
41-51. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
COHEN, MICHAEL A. "Afghanistan: What Can We Achieve?." Dissent (00123846) 58.1
(2011): 9-13. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.