Leaving Afghanistan: Obama’s Plan

By Kortnie Dean

The United States has been an extensive amount of time in the country of Afghanistan. Our initial invasion was to fight terror, al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Today, the war in Afghanistan is less definite. Operation Enduring freedom has developed since the war began in 2001 and has had serious consequences. Even after the fall of the Taliban and the killing of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. continues the conflict in the country. American citizens have slowly grown weary of being in such a long war and most are ready for some sort of action or progress. Recently, citizens have shown their disdain against the War on the grounds of the economic strife of the nation. Incredible amounts of money have been dedicated to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and have only increased our debt and added more pressure to the economy and citizens. It is important to acknowledge that the lives of American troops and innocent civilians are obviously more important than fiscal matters, but for the sake of my argument I will focus on the economic issues of the war in Afghanistan.

On June 22, 2011 President Barack Obama gave a speech informing citizens of his plan to evacuate 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011 and another 23,000 in 2012. This speech came in a time in which many politicians and citizens have stepped up against the War in Afghanistan because of economic issues. Obama does note that we will not fully leave the country until the job is done which begs the question of when the war will ever end and at what cost.

Whether or not Obama’s evacuation plan is beneficial to the country has been strongly debated recently. From a financial standpoint, many are supportive of the new plan. The employment of the U.S. military in Afghanistan has reached unimaginable costs. This year, the nation has crossed the threshold of spending more than one trillion dollars in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The number is hard to conceptualize and even more difficult to put into thought as the economy continues to struggle. Each day spent in the war adds to the country’s deficit. We have increased our monthly spending by billions each month in 2011 alone. Almost four billion dollars each month are spent on the war. These expenses include transportation, combat pay, benefits, food and medical services for the soldiers, maintenance and equipment. The building of security in both countries is also a part of the expenses. The eye-catching number of one trillion dollars does not include other funds such as intelligence or long term mental and physical care for veterans. Among these expenses are the costs for reconstruction in the war torn countries.

Recently the United States Mayors Convention caused commotion as they discussed their opinions on evacuating Afghanistan. While their statements do not necessarily enforce any military or legislative action the mayors public authority has gathered interest of other American citizens. Their argument centers on the idea that too much money is being spent in Afghanistan and other war related expenses. Even many Republican figures who primarily supported the war are now hesitant about its continuation. The costs of the war are hard to imagine in monetary figures, but politicians and citizens have come to realize that the war cannot go on this way and money can no longer fund these operations. Billions of American dollars have been consolidated to the relief and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Many question why the money is not being put into this country. The American government is cutting services and programs in the country but extending efforts for such programs to exist in Afghanistan. While these actions have substantial potential for the civilians of Afghanistan, economically, it is hurting those of America. Our small businesses are closing, educational systems are struggling and job opportunities are slim.

Focusing on the economy rather than other reasons for leaving Afghanistan, we can see that the continuation of American occupation will lead to the continuation of financial problems. There are many people who claim that leaving Afghanistan now will not fix our debt or even prevent more of it. This idea is ridiculous. Mathematically, numbers add up, as does time. More months in Afghanistan mean more money being spent by the government. How can taking troops out of the country do anything but help government spending?

The overflow of money that is put into these two countries is not helping the economic strife of the United States. Recovering from the recession has been difficult for both large corporations and small businesses throughout the nation. Government spending should not resort to borrowing and increasing debt, especially for this war. I support the end of the occupation in Afghanistan for reasons other than the economy, but I know that these numerical figures have the ability to give a realistic look at the impact of the war. Obama’s proposal for the evacuation of troops is a step towards financial prosperity. Leaving Afghanistan will bring more stability to the economy and more importantly, save the lives of many troops and civilians.

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