Lesson of the Day: ‘The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended’


Lesson Overview

Featured Article: “The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended” by David Zucchino

On Aug. 30, the United States eliminated all navy forces from Afghanistan — ending America’s longest struggle almost 20 years after it started.

The struggle claimed 170,00Zero lives and price over $2 trillion. Now, the Taliban is in management of the nation, because it was on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist assaults on the United States by Al Qaeda.

In the lesson, you’ll study extra about the causes and the penalties of the United States’ struggle in Afghanistan. In a Going Further exercise, you’ll discover first-person tales from Afghanistan and contemplate whether or not the U.S. ought to have withdrawn.


Have you been following the information about the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan? What have you ever seen, learn or heard? What feelings, ideas or emotions do you have got about these latest occasions — together with the fall of the Afghan authorities to the Taliban and the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport as Western forces scrambled to evacuate tens of hundreds of individuals from the nation?

Next, take 5 minutes to discover a number of of the items beneath that seize the sights and sounds of the finish of America’s 20-year struggle in Afghanistan:

Photos: Powerful photos right here and right here documenting the dramatic scenes from Afghanistan throughout the previous six weeks.

Audio: The first jiffy of an episode of “The Daily” in which a Kabul resident recounts her experiences as the Taliban seized the capital.

Video: A one-minute video capturing the chaos and desperation at the airport in Kabul as hundreds of individuals tried to flee the nation.

Maps and graphs: Maps illustrating how the Taliban took over most of the nation after the United States began its withdrawal in May.

As you view these assets, write down three particulars that stand out for you, two reactions you have got and one query you wish to ask. Then, if in a classroom setting, share and clarify your responses with a associate.

Note to lecturers and college students: Some of the multimedia assets above comprise photos and tales of trauma and dying.

Questions for Writing and Discussion

Read the featured article, then reply the following questions:

1. David Zucchino begins the article with a robust and blunt evaluation: “The American mission in Afghanistan has come to a tragic and chaotic end.” What proof does he present in the opening paragraphs to assist this view? Which particulars do you discover most memorable, poignant or vital?

2. How did the U.S. withdrawal go, in accordance with Mr. Zucchino? What arguments did President Biden give to assist the withdrawal? How persuasive do you discover them? Why has Mr. Biden been criticized for each the determination to withdraw from Afghanistan and its execution? How justified are these criticisms?

three. Why did the United States invade Afghanistan, in accordance with the article? What was the connection to the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults on America?

four. How did the mission change and evolve over time? Cite no less than three key actions, occasions or selections in the two decade battle.

5. What are the legacy and the classes of the struggle in Afghanistan? What was achieved, if something? What do you contemplate to be its successes or failures? What questions do you continue to have about the 20-year struggle?

Going Further

Option 1: Explore first-person tales from Afghanistan.

VideoA boxer. A singer. A journalist. Three younger girls discovered success in Kabul, Afghanistan. When the Taliban took the metropolis, their goals and lives had been shattered.

What is the future of Afghanistan, significantly for ladies, school-age kids and Afghan individuals who helped coalition forces throughout the struggle? Below you will discover a group of articles, movies, images and podcasts revealed by The Times that includes the first-person voices and experiences of Afghans residing via the collapse of the authorities, the takeover by the Taliban and the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan ›

Latest Updates

Updated Sept. 2, 2021, 5:49 p.m. ETAs Afghan evacuees are screened for safety dangers, only a few have raised issues, the navy says.The final U.S. diplomat to go away Kabul has examined constructive for the virus.The White House rejects easing sanctions on the Taliban.

Choose no less than one to learn or discover in its entirety.

‘I Won’t Go 20 Years Back in Time’: Young Afghan Women Speak Out (Video)

‘We Are Here Alone’: An Afghan Translator’s Plea for Help (Video)

What Will Become of Afghanistan’s Post-9/11 Generation? (Photo Essay)

The Interpreters the U.S. Left Behind in Afghanistan (The Daily Podcast)

For Afghan Women, Taliban Stir Fears of Return to a Repressive Past (Article)

Understand the Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose in 1994 amid the turmoil that got here after the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, together with floggings, amputations and mass executions, to implement their guidelines. Here’s extra on their origin story and their file as rulers.

Who are the Taliban leaders? These are the prime leaders of the Taliban, males who’ve spent years on the run, in hiding, in jail and dodging American drones. Little is thought about them or how they plan to manipulate, together with whether or not they are going to be as tolerant as they declare to be. One spokesman informed The Times that the group wished to neglect its previous, however that there could be some restrictions.

How did the Taliban acquire management? See how the Taliban retook energy in Afghanistan in a couple of months, and examine how their technique enabled them to take action.

What occurs to the girls of Afghanistan? The final time the Taliban had been in energy, they barred girls and women from taking most jobs or going to highschool. Afghan girls have made many positive factors since the Taliban had been toppled, however now they worry that floor could also be misplaced. Taliban officers are attempting to reassure girls that issues might be completely different, however there are indicators that, no less than in some areas, they’ve begun to reimpose the outdated order.

What does their victory imply for terrorist teams? The United States invaded Afghanistan 20 years in the past in response to terrorism, and many fear that Al Qaeda and different radical teams will once more discover protected haven there. On Aug. 26, lethal explosions exterior Afghanistan’s predominant airport claimed by the Islamic State demonstrated that terrorists stay a risk.

How will this have an effect on future U.S. coverage in the area? Washington and the Taliban might spend years pulled between cooperation and battle, Some of the key points at hand embrace: the best way to cooperate in opposition to a mutual enemy, the Islamic State department in the area, often called ISIS-Ok, and whether or not the U.S. ought to launch $9.four billion in Afghan authorities foreign money reserves which might be frozen in the nation.

As the Taliban Tighten Their Grip, Fears of Retribution Grow (Article)

The Airlifts Have Stopped, and the Taliban Are Looking for Me (Guest Essay)

After studying the article, listening to the podcast or watching the video, mirror on the questions beneath:

What is one quote that you just discovered memorable, shocking or affecting?

What is one picture that you just noticed in the video, or that was described in the article or podcast, that was strongest in your understanding of the present state of affairs in Afghanistan? How did it add to or change your understanding of Afghanistan?

What private connections are you able to make to those tales? What questions would you wish to ask the individuals featured in them?

If you wish to know what you, your group and native leaders can do to assist, learn: How to Help Afghan Refugees and the Relief Effort.

Option 2: Watch a video inspecting the roots and penalties of America’s longest struggle.





How the U.S. navy response to the 9/11 assaults led to many years of struggle.

Officials who drove the decades-long struggle in Afghanistan look again on the strategic errors and misjudgments that led to a 20-year quagmire.

Two many years after invading Afghanistan, the United States is withdrawing, leaving chaos in its wake and the nation a lot because it discovered it 20 years in the past. “The Taliban don’t just control Kabul, but the whole country.” How did a struggle that started in response to the 9/11 assaults turn into the longest in American historical past? “If somebody had told me in 2001 that we were going to be there for another 20 years, I would not have believed them.” And what classes will be discovered for the future? “We were doing the same thing year after year after year, expecting a different result.” “Nearly 2,400 Americans have died in Afghanistan.” “More than 43,000 Afghan civilians lost their lives.” “You can’t remake a country on the American image. You can’t win if you’re fighting people who are fighting for their own villages and their own territory. Those were lessons we thought we learned in Vietnam. And yet, 30, 40 years later, we end up in Afghanistan, repeating the same mistakes.” On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was visiting an elementary faculty in Sarasota, Fla., when he acquired phrase of an assault on the World Trade Center in New York City. “We’re looking at a live picture of the, of the building right now. And, uh, what would you say? That would be about the 90th floor or so?” The president joined his workers in an empty classroom, the place his C.I.A. intelligence briefer, Michael Morell, had been watching the assault unfold. “There was a TV there and the second plane hit.” “Oh my goodness.” “Oh God.” “There’s another one.” “Oh.” “Oh my goodness, there’s another one.” “God.” “And when that happened, I knew that this was an act of terrorism.” At the Capitol in Washington, Representative Barbara Lee’s assembly was interrupted. “I heard a lot of noise saying, ‘Evacuate. Leave. Get out of here. Run fast.’ So, I ran up Independence Avenue. As I turned around, I was able to see a heck of a lot of smoke.” “Another aircraft, unbelievably, has crashed into the Pentagon.” “What you have to understand is this is the largest attack ever in the entire history of the country.” At 9:59 a.m., the second World Trade Center tower to be struck collapsed. Twenty-nine minutes later, the different tower adopted. “The president, he asked to see me in his office on Air Force One. The president looked me in the eye and he said, ‘Michael, who did this?’ I told the president that I would bet my children’s future that Al Qaeda was responsible for this attack.” Within hours, proof surfaced that Al Qaeda, a multinational terrorist group headed by the Islamic fundamentalist Osama Bin Laden, had dedicated the assaults. The group was being given protected haven in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime. “The president’s inclination was to hit back and hit back hard.” “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people — ” “So the president decided to go to war.” “ — And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” “We had to go to Afghanistan. There’s no question in any of our minds, it’s a war of necessity. We had to go after Al Qaeda, we had to kill them, we had to get them out, and we had to pursue them to the ends of the earth.” “The word on the street was everyone’s got to be united with the president. You know, the country is in mourning.” Three days after the assaults, Lee was underneath stress to vote sure on a decision in Congress to authorize going to struggle in opposition to Al Qaeda and its allies when she heard a eulogy at a memorial service. “That as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.” “It was at that point I said, We need to think through our military response, our national security response and the possible impact on civilians.” “Mr. Speaker, members, I rise today really with a very heavy heart. One that is filled with sorrow for the families and the loved ones who were killed and injured this week. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.” “Got back to the office and all hell was breaking loose.” “The only dissenting voice was Democrat Barbara Lee of California, voting no.” “Phone calls, threats. People were calling me a traitor. She’s got to go. But I knew then it was going to set the stage for perpetual war.” Within weeks of 9/11, the U.S. struck again in Afghanistan. “The United States military has begun strikes against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime.” Soon after, U.S. floor troops arrived in the nation. “The invasion was a success very quickly.” “At the gates of Kabul, news of a Taliban collapse had already reached these thousands.” “The Taliban retreat has turned into a rout.” “By the end of the year, the Taliban had been driven from power. A large number of Al Qaeda operatives had either been killed or captured.” And though Osama Bin Laden had managed to flee, the U.S. had achieved its predominant purpose. “Al Qaeda could not operate out of Afghanistan anymore.” President Bush knew there was a historical past of failed navy campaigns in Afghanistan. “We know this from not only intelligence but from the history of military conflict in Afghanistan. It’s been one of initial success followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure. We’re not going to repeat that mistake.” [Applause] But after his preliminary success, Bush expanded the mission to nation-building. To forestall additional Al Qaeda assaults, his administration mentioned it wished to remodel the poor, war-torn nation right into a secure democracy, with a powerful central authorities and U.S.-trained navy. “The idea was it would be impossible for the Taliban to ever return to power and impossible for Afghanistan to ever be used as a safe haven again.” “There were girls starting to go to school, there were clinics and hospitals being set up, there were vaccinations, there were elections planned. Everything was kind of humming along and we all thought, OK, this is going to be fine.” But by the mid-2000s, after the Bush administration expanded the struggle on terror to Iraq, Richard Boucher realized that the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities was affected by corruption and mismanagement. “I used to say to my guys on the Afghan desk, ‘If we’re winning, how come it don’t look like we’re winning?’” “The Taliban have staged a major comeback, seizing control of large swaths of the country.” “The people were not rejecting the Taliban. And that was, in the end, because the government couldn’t deliver much for the people. Everybody had this idea in their heads that government works the way it does in Washington. But Afghanistan hasn’t worked that way in the past. I think that was a moment we should’ve at least asked ourselves whether it wasn’t really time for us to leave and to say to the Afghans, ‘It’s your place, you run it as best you can.’” Instead, by 2011, President Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, had despatched almost 50,00Zero extra troops to Afghanistan, hoping to reverse the Taliban’s positive factors. “I think one of the biggest mistakes we made strategically, after 9/11, was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq.” One of these troops was Marine Captain Timothy Kudo. Part of his job was to shore up assist for the authorities by digging wells and constructing colleges. He quickly misplaced religion in that mission after, he says, his firm killed two Afghan youngsters they mistakenly believed had been firing on them. “And their family saw this happen. The mothers, the grandmothers, they came out. It was the first time I’d ever seen an Afghan woman without wearing a burqa. They were sobbing and crying uncontrollably. I mean, how can you kill two innocent people and expect anything that you say to matter at that point?” “People here have little faith in U.S. forces anymore. More Afghans now blame the violence here on the U.S. than on the Taliban.” Weeks after Kudo returned residence from Afghanistan, there was a monumental growth. “I started getting all these texts, like, ‘You’ve got to check out the TV.’ My roommate calls me from the other room. ‘Turn on CNN.’” “The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda.” “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” “In that moment, people are celebrating in front of the White House. They’re celebrating by Ground Zero.” “This is where it happened. We’re back. It’s justice!” “And to my mind, there’s no more reason to go through this madness. And, of course, we then did it for another decade.” “I think the military and the national security apparatus thought they could win. And I think that they also wanted to believe that because they had invested so much. People had died and they didn’t want them to die in vain.” “2011, Bin Laden is now dead. Why was it so hard to de-escalate?” Jeffrey Eggers was on President Obama’s National Security Council. He says that the purpose since 9/11, to ensure Afghanistan would by no means once more be a protected haven for terrorists, had turn into a recipe for infinite struggle. “We will forever prevent the conditions that led to such an attack.” “Danger close!” [Gunfire] “And if you define it that way, when are you finished?” [Gunfire] “Go! Come on, come on, come on!” Though the surge did not push again the Taliban, the U.S. drew down troop ranges at the same time as doubts had been rising that Afghan forces would be capable of defend the nation. In 2021, President Biden, the fourth president to preside over the struggle, introduced that he would withdraw U.S. troops, a plan set in movement by his predecessor, Donald Trump. “Nobody should have any doubts. We lost the war in Afghanistan.” “And we’re clear to cross?” “It wasn’t a peace agreement; it was a withdrawal agreement. The agreement was essentially, As we withdraw, don’t attack us.” As the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban is taking on once more, having shortly overrun the Afghan Army, which the U.S. spent greater than $80 billion to coach and equip. “The Taliban are out in full force. And their Islamist rule is already coming back.” “They can use this as a recruiting tool. They are now the champions of the jihadi movement because they pushed out the United States.” And U.S. officers are reflecting on the starting of the struggle, 20 years after 9/11. “More people should have thought about endless war, not just in Congress but in the State Department, in the Defense Department, C.I.A. and elsewhere, in the White House. That the recipe of using military means to go after terrorism was just going to get us into one fight after another after another. One can only hope that Americans of the new generation will think about this.”

Officials who drove the decades-long struggle in Afghanistan look again on the strategic errors and misjudgments that led to a 20-year quagmire.

How did the American mission in Afghanistan turn into its longest struggle? What can we study from the selections that drove the two-decade battle?

In the Retro Report video “How the Military Response to 9/11 Led to Two Decades of War in Afghanistan,” officers who drove the decades-long struggle in Afghanistan look again on the strategic errors and misjudgments that led to a 20-year quagmire.

Then, reply to the following questions, tailored from our Film Club function:

What moments in this movie stood out for you? Why?

Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you understand — or thought you knew?

What messages, feelings or concepts will you are taking away from this movie? Why?

What questions do you continue to have about the struggle in Afghanistan?

What connections are you able to make between this movie and your personal life or expertise? Why? How does this movie hook up with what you discovered in the featured article?

Option three: Engage in a “Structured Academic Controversy” to discover the execs and cons of the U.S. determination to withdraw.

Retro Report has created a sequence of actions to accompany the movie above — “How the Military Response to 9/11 Led to Two Decades of War in Afghanistan” — that culminates in a structured dialog and debate over the important query: Should the United States have withdrawn from Afghanistan?

Here are the steps in the exercise: First, you full the timeline and analyze the views offered in the movie. Then you determine execs and cons for the important query. Next, with a associate, you select no less than three articles supplied in the exercise to learn and analyze out of your assigned facet. And lastly, you and your associate will discover one other pupil pair to have a structured dialog about the query of staying or withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Teachers: Retro Report gives a full lesson plan that guides you and your college students via the actions and the best way to have interaction in a “Structured Academic Controversy.”

Learn extra about Lesson of the Day right here and discover all of our every day classes in this column.