Shortly after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in 1996 (their rise to power itself a result of the 1979 Soviet intervention in Afghanistan), we began to hear endless stories of the horrors of this student movement turned governing power. They ruled by Sharia law, they treated women badly, they even blew up ancient statues!
The US rhetoric against the Taliban began long before the attacks of 9/11 (which were carried out largely by Saudis who trained in Afghanistan with the knowledge of the Taliban). But it was the 9/11 attacks that opened the door to a direct US intervention in Afghanistan.
However, an operation that was Congressionally authorized primarily to seek out and punish those who planned and executed the attacks on New York and Washington very quickly morphed into a “regime change” operation to “liberate” the Afghans from Taliban rule. So focused was the US on “regime change” that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was able to slip out of the US grasp at Tora Bora and make his way to Pakistan.
From an operation to retaliate for an attack on US soil, the Afghan operation soon became a nation-building operation where the focus shifted from US security to the plight of women formerly under Taliban rule. The US government’s marketing geniuses even tried to “re-brand Afghanistan” to the tune of $4.8 million.
So after 15 years and well over one trillion dollars spent, after tens of thousands of dead Afghanis and several thousand US and allied soldiers, after the country has been ripped apart by war with no economy left, what has been achieved?
US intervention in Afghanistan has succeeded in replacing the Taliban threat with something even worse! As with Iraq, Libya, and Syria, there was no ISIS in Afghanistan before the US intervention. Today after 15 years of US “liberation” ISIS is not only making inroads into Afghanistan, it is turning the country into a bloodbath.
Just yesterday a coordinated ISIS suicide bomb attack in Kabul blew apart more than 80 innocent demonstrators.
And who is ISIS’s bitterest foe in Afghanistan? No, not the US. It is the Taliban.
This is intervention laid bare: it replaces one set of “bad guys” with another whole new level of bad guys. It spreads not peace and freedom, but death and ISIS. US foreign interventionism is a cancer.
Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.