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Jordan Candler / Aug. 13, 2015

Taliban Recaptures Now Zad, Erasing U.S. Gains in Afghanistan

Now we’re paying the price of not finishing what we started.

Nothing demonstrates the importance of finishing what’s been started more so than the Middle East. Yet another setback occurred in July, when Taliban insurgents overran Now Zad, Afghanistan, a district located in the Helmand Province. American and British troops battled bravely for years to overtake this Taliban stronghold, but insurgents reclaimed the district in just a third of the time it took allied forces to wrest it from them. According to The Washington Free Beacon, “Between 2007 and 2010, the Taliban engaged in significant fighting with British forces and U.S. Marines at Now Zad. In 2009, over 900 U.S. and British troops partnered with 150 Afghan soldiers in Operation Cobra’s Anger to rid the area of Taliban control. The majority of the 378 Marines killed in the Afghanistan war perished in Helmand Province, and most of the 450 British troops lost also died there.” Last year, however, U.S. troops were pulled out, leaving behind a vacuum the Taliban quickly filled. “[W]hen American forces withdrew from the area in June 2014, the Taliban began a campaign to retake territory that it lost to the more than 30,000 U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan to retake Taliban-controlled areas between 2009 and 2012,” the Beacon explains. “The Taliban has since gained control of districts in Kunduz, Sar-i-Pul, and Badakhshan during recent months, and now adds Now Zad to that list.” Something similar is unfolding in Iraq, where the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American troops is in danger of being wasted. The truth is that we didn’t “leav[e] behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq,” as Barack Obama boasted in 2011. And the truth is that both nations risk falling back to their pre-war ways. That’s why, regardless of one’s opinion of the wars, abandoning the region was always a bad idea.

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