Americans don’t need to worry about Afghanistan

Our trillions of dollars in sunk costs have come to an end. There’s still no threat to the United States from Afghanistan.

With the full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan underway, many in the commentariat and foreign policy credentialed class have taken to claiming that Kabul will come back to bite us in the future, and that this “Graveyard of Empires” will inevitably haunt us in the near future. 

But that just couldn’t be further from the truth.

While Afghanistan is a land of strategic trade routes and rich natural resources, the nation state itself is an entirely irrelevant actor on the world stage. From a security perspective, there is zero risk coming from an Afghanistan free of an American military presence.

Our self-imposed damage in Afghanistan has already been done. It is a sunk cost through and through. Those trillions of dollars have been printed and spent. The checks have already been cashed. The bribes have already been paid. And tragically, too many lives have already been lost. It seems that America has stopped our bloodletting adventure in Afghanistan, and the country will now continue to maintain an irrelevant presence on the geopolitical landscape for generations to come.

We don’t need to worry about Afghanistan. It’s a rather inconsequential place in the world, and its current Taliban rulers are dedicated, through their ideological doctrine, to making sure Kabul stays that way. The poverty-stricken country does possess untapped and valuable natural resources, but other than that, it’s a land filled with individuals whose minds remain beholden to ideologies free of enlightenment era thought, stuck somewhere hundreds of years in the past, and it will remain that way for a long time, given the dominant political doctrine within its borders.

The proponents of the forever war and nation building in Afghanistan continue to maintain that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan allowed for our military to smoke out potential terror plots before they were hatched. First and foremost, this idea, if followed to its logical end point, endorses a U.S. military presence everywhere in the world (maybe that’s the point?) where those who seek harm against the United States are considered a vital threat, regardless of if they are actually capable of pulling off such plots. If this sounds familiar, it is essentially the mainstream rationale for our continuing “War On Terror,” which, perhaps by design, can go on forever, as our enemies list is not clearly defined, and potentially infinite.

Second, the premise that “we need to fight them there so they don’t come here” remains a ridiculous, botched notion. The 9/11 attacks were not the result of some kind of ICBM launched from the mountains of Afghanistan. If that was the case, maybe there would indeed be a more legitimate case for a continuing U.S. presence there. September 11 was a total failure of our immigration and visa processes, which allowed some of these jihadists to operate within our nation, and train for the attacks extensively within our borders, for *well over a year* before they conducted the operation. September 11 was a domestic security failure, not a foreign policy misstep. And recall that Osama Bin Laden, the 9/11 mastermind, fled to Pakistan (under the protection of the supposedly U.S.-allied Pakistani military) shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

Hardly an ICBM weapons factory, Afghanistan is a devastatingly poor nation populated by a combination of fundamentalist tribes, barbarian warlords, shepherds, nomads, and subsistence farmers. Sure, the United States pumped trillions of dollars into Afghan labeled projects, but most of the money made its way back into the U.S. military-industrial complex. Boeing and Raytheon made a windfall, but the average Afghan is still dirt poor. Sadly, the infrastructure built up in Afghanistan will probably be used by the Taliban to further extend their power and subjugate Afghans. Still, the Taliban does not have anywhere near the capacity to threaten the homeland. 

The people of Afghanistan have never posed a threat to the United States. This was the case before 9/11 and today in 2021. The average per capita income in Afghanistan is under $400 a year. Afghanistan is not a land of individuals who wake up in the morning planning to invade the United States mainland. They are too focused on the demands each day faces, as there are basic needs to be met. These dirt poor individuals and families are operating under the boot of a broken, throwback society, so adults spend most of their days working in order to achieve the task of putting food on the table for their families.

The most valuable strategic asset involving Afghanistan is the country’s estimated $1 trillion  stash of rare earth minerals, which include iron, lithium, copper, and gold. China, Pakistan, India, and other nation states are attempting to secure agreements in place that would result in the extraction of these minerals. However, there is still currently no infrastructure in place to facilitate these agreements. Though the United States government had 20 years to pursue these resources, our leaders chose instead to pursue democracy projects and nation building, at the expense of the American taxpayer. So yes, it’s unfortunate that U.S. adversaries may end up securing untapped resources that could have been secured by the Americans some 10 to 20 years ago, but that does not change the reality of the American taxpayer footing the bill of the Afghanistan project for decades, with nothing to show for it. 

There is no threat to America from Afghanistan. There never was. Americans don’t need to worry about any threats coming from Afghanistan anytime soon.