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Tyler Nycum: Our nation should remain engaged with the Middle East

President after president has tried to solve the problem of Afghanistan.

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2012 file photo, U.S. soldiers, part of the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol west of Kabul, Afghanistan. After 20 years of military engagement and billions of dollars spent, NATO and the United States still grapple with the same, seemingly intractable conundrum — how to withdraw troops from Afghanistan without abandoning the country to even more mayhem. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi, File)

On Sept. 11, 2001, many of my classmates were just born or becoming toddlers. Now we are in college, studying a war that has gone on for 20-plus years.

More than 2,300 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan as our country and our allies attempted to rid the world of terrorist and different terrorist organizations. In our journey, we have taken out some of the world’s most deadly terrorists, such as Osama Biden Laden, and a host of others who wanted to harm western society and primarily divide the United States. However, we have failed to rebuild.

From President Bush to President Obama to President Trump, we were given false promises of removing troops from Afghanistan and a mix of different policies. Each of the three presidents has had a different plan for the region, and the constant flip-flop has caused more Americans to serve in the area.

President George W. Bush was a significant force in getting Americans into the Middle East to get back at the terrorist organization of al-Qaeda and bin Laden. In 2002, Bush called for reconstructing Afghanistan by using a form of the Marshall plan. This form of policy was implemented with Afghanistan to form a new future with a constitutional government. During Bush’s tenure, we spent more than $38 billion in an attempt to rebuild Afghanistan. We failed from the government implementations, and reconstruction failed.

On the campaign trail, Obama brought up the possibility of removing troops from Afghanistan, though he decided to recommit and reinforce in Afghanistan. Once commander and chief, Obama decided to increase the number of service members in the area by adding more than 15,000 Americans to the site. Obama’s plan involved moving the war into Pakistan to defeat al-Qaeda in that region so that they wouldn’t move into other parts of the Middle East. The Taliban just wanted to set more tension in the area, and in 2014, Obama began pulling out the extra troops he sent in.

Trump, just like Obama, ran on the campaign trail to end the long war, though, once he became president, Trump went into the Middle East to stop the growth of terror with the Taliban and ISIS. Trump was worried about the troops on the ground and could not pull out our ground troops with his policy until the Taliban improved the conditions with the Afghanistan forces. Trump was able to get the Taliban to the table for peace negations.

By 2020, after 19 years, the Taliban agreed to a peace deal that includes the United States pulling troops. The Taliban will no longer use Afghanistan as a breeding ground for terror. President Joe Biden has set the date that will end the prolonged war later than the original set time. Time has finally come to get on out.

As a foreign policy student, the entire war has been an important learning ground for future students, policymakers and politicians. Biden has not released his policy in the area once our troops have been removed. However, we could only imagine that the United States and our allies will remain on guard when it comes to Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Our Marshall Plan failed, our military was forced into fighting and we saw a failure with terrorist growth in the region. In future military engagement, we should be maximizing the use of our technology and fight through the air with our nuclear arsenal. We should continue to build nations through democracy, and a constitutional government voted on by the citizens. However, we need to do better at removing the enemy.

We should remain a nation well engaged with the Middle East because of the past conflicts with different nations within the region. Our country has spent nearly a trillion dollars, had thousands of wounded soldiers, and over 2,500 dead Americans. However, it is the United States’ duty to remain as the global police fighting for a greater tomorrow.


Tyler Nycum, Salt Lake City, is a graduating 20-year-old senior at the University of Utah, a double major in economics and political science from Northern California, an inspiring future businessman, lawyer and political writer.

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