September 11th, 2001: 19 terrorists hijacked 4 airplanes and flew them into the pillars of American dominance
October 7th, 2001: In retaliation, the USA invaded Afghanistan
December 17th, 2001: The Taliban, the government of Afghanistan, is toppled.
For the next 20 years, the Americans would "modernize" and "nation build" Afghanistan.
As time passed, the attention US civilian population began to fade. "We're bringing freedom" to "we're keeping things stable" to "what are we doing here?"
And so, in 2021 the USA packed up what it could, blew up what it couldn't, and just left.
US intelligence said Kabul could hold out for months, but it was quickly adjusted to suggest the capital would last "30 to 90 days."
3 days later, Kabul fell.
On August 15th, Kabul was surrounded and The Afghan President handed over power to an interim Taliban government.
Immediately afterward, the US government announced that it would freeze the assets of the Afghan central bank.
Even before the Taliban took over, the country was facing a drought, the COVID pandemic, and mass displacement driven by military conflict. Civilian casualties reaching record levels.
Under the now-collapsed, Western-backed government, 43% of Afghanistan’s GDP and 75% of public spending came from foreign aid. And now, the government of Afghanistan only had access to .1% of the country's reserves.
90% of Afghans lived on a daily income of less than $2, and an estimated 18MM people — half the population — were in need of humanitarian aid.
Even prior to the events of last August, Afghanistan’s economy was on the brink. Afghanistan faced poverty rates above 50 percent. International donor grants financed about 75 percent of public expenditures and 50 percent of the government’s budget. A two-year long drought had reduced many crops to 40 percent of their usual yields, and Afghanistan had one of the least developed financial systems in the world—with just 10-20% of adults holding bank accounts.
“The freezing of the national reserves and the drying up of all types of aid to the country has sent financial shockwaves in the country, and the economy is on the brink of collapse.”
All the West could say: "NO MONEY FOR THE TALIBAN."
Over the next 6 months, the Americans would turn their attention to more American matters while the people of Afghanistan would suffer.
The plan was so painfully American: the citizens of Afghanistan would pay off the victims of a Saudi attack on US soil... but at least the Afghans would get relief.
A devastating June 2022 earthquake (the deadliest since 1998) made the situation more urgent.
The US government and the Taliban were in talks to design a mechanism through which the $3.5B could flow. Just as everything was coming together and it looked like population of Afghanistan (of which >95% were not getting enough to eat), it all fell apart.
The Americans began receiving intel that Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al-Qaeda, was seen in Kabul.
The Americans waited until he was home (a house owned by a member of the Taliban) and then unleashed a drone strike, killing him instantly.
Citing the Taliban's broken promises to "keep terrorists out of Afghanistan," the US withdrew from the talks and announced it would not be returning any of Afghanistan's money to the Taliban.
The governments walked away, the people kept suffering.
Which brings us to today... this is the current status of the situation.
al-Zawahri was killed and the US withdrew the hope in August. Even (some of) the 9/11 families know this isn't right.
I am not here to make a comment on 9/11, terrorism or the Taliban. I am a soft American who grew up blind to my role in the world.
I know nothing.
But I do understand fairness. I do understand empathy.
I don't understand why we are doing this to the people of Afghanistan.
"The Taliban government has done horrific things... However, it is both morally condemnable and politically and economically reckless to impose collective punishment on an entire people for the actions of a government they did not choose."
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