Was Our Invasion of Afghanistan A Huge Mistake?

by Ben Hoffman

There’s widespread agreement that our invasion and occupation of Iraq was a mistake since the rationale was based on lies and false evidence, and because it turned into a costly quagmire with little benefit to our security. But what about Afghanistan? Was the U.S. invasion justified? At the time, most of the American public trusted the president’s judgment including all but one Congressman.

While it’s true that Osama bin-Laden had been operating out of Afghanistan, most of the planning for the 9/11 attacks were done in Germany. Bin-Laden and those who carried out the attacks were from Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda consisted of about 15,000 – 20,000 rouge fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan and bin-Laden, while having been successful in carrying out several attacks around the world, had not achieved world prominence.

Film critic Roger Ebert once said about heroes and villains in movies, “Each film is only as good as its villain.” Before 9/11, bin-Laden was definitely a menace, but hardly a villain worthy of starting two major wars costing a trillion dollars and thousands of soldiers lives.

After 9/11, we had the support of the world in going after those responsible for the attack. Even Iran was on our side. Had we gone after them methodically using our newly acquired allies, we could have hunted down bin-Laden and probably destroyed al-Qaeda. Actually, we didn’t even need to hunt down bin-Laden. The Taliban in Afghanistan offered to try bin-Laden under Islamic law, which can be extremely brutal in its punishments. The trial would have been on the world stage and justice more than likely would have prevailed.

Instead, Bush decided to elevate bin-Laden’s villain status and attempt to bomb Afghanistan out of existence. The evidence shows that Bush wasn’t even all that interested in capturing bin-Laden when our military had him cornered in Tora Bora. He was worth far more on the run to the Bush administration. It elevated the adversarial value of bin-Laden and elevated Bush’s hero status.

George W. Bush had plans to go into Iraq even before he become president. Once he took office, it only took about a month before he ordered the bombing of Iraq in an effort to antagonize Saddam Hussein into war. Hussein didn’t react. After 9/11, though, Bush was a hero and had the capital to go into Iraq. He also had the capital to pass huge tax cuts that resulted in the doubling of the U.S. debt.

We’re now in our ninth year of the war in Afghanistan. Bin-Laden remains at large. The two wars along with the tax cuts resulted in huge federal deficits. Our enormous debt is a bigger threat to our country than any terrorist attack.

Had Bush accepted the Taliban’s offer to try Osama bin-Laden in 2001, bin-Laden would probably have been executed by now. We wouldn’t be stuck in two quagmires that have made us less safe. And Nidal Malik Hasan wouldn’t have murdered 13 and injured 28 at Fort Hood a few days ago.

But trials don’t make for very interesting heroes.

One Comment to “Was Our Invasion of Afghanistan A Huge Mistake?”

  1. Mr. Hoffman,

    “George W. Bush had plans to go into Iraq even before he become president”

    Can you please document this?

    “The evidence shows that Bush wasn’t even all that interested in capturing bin-Laden when our military had him cornered in Tora Bora.”

    And this also. I was not aware of these facts.

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