With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on
the United States. And war is what they got. - George W. Bush
The September 11th attacks of 2001 were hideous. They made decent people all over the world share a collective intake of breath. How could those bastards kill so many innocent people as well as throwing away their own lives? It was all so terrible and so shocking. There hadn't been anything like that before. America the Beautiful was traumatised from sea to shining sea.
When somebody assaults you, breaks into your home, hurts a member of your family or steals your car it is natural to want revenge. An eye for an eye. It's written in the DNA of human beings.
Consequently, George W. Bush, spurred on by the US military and powerful Republicans looked for an enemy who would pay the price of what happened that fateful September morning. Trouble was that the enemy did not hail from nor represent any particular country. They were just a bunch of horrible men united in their corrupt interpretation of The Qur'an, Islam's holy book.
Some would argue that if any country deserved to suffer payback time it would have been Saudi Arabia and not Afghanistan. However, American sights were soon set firmly on Afghanistan because there was evidence that the killers had undertaken training there.
What was America getting itself into and what were they hoping to achieve in Afghanistan? In the quest for revenge the mission was never made clear. Great Britain and other western allies hung on to America's coat tails and played their own smaller parts in this so-called war on terror. Revenge would be sweet, wouldn't it?
Twenty years later as America and its allies effectively pull out of Afghanistan, it all becomes clearer. An estimated $2.261 trillion was the financial cost and between 171,000 and 174,000 people died including some 47,000 Afghan civilians. America lost 2,442 military personnel and 3,846 US contractors. The Afghan army and police force lost over 66,000 people. It is a very terrible toll - especially when we recall that just 2996 people died in the attacks on September 11th 2001.
As America, Britain and the rest slip away from Afghanistan with politicians and military spokespeople creatively and rather desperately describing what was "achieved", The Taliban marches on reclaiming towns and villages and mountains, their Islamic fundamentalism effectively strengthened by the unwanted foreign occupation they fought against for two costly decades.
The youngest British soldier to die in the Afghan war was eighteen year old William Aldridge back in 2009. His mother Lucy said recently, "I'd like to see with my own eyes, what did we achieve? What was the sacrifice for? Because it's too high a price to pay."
In the meantime, Afghanistan's painful saga continues.