Why did the U.S. leave Afghanistan?

2023 © Wikiask
Main topic: Humanities
Other topics: U.S., Afghanistan
Short answer:
  • The Afghanistan war has had financial repercussions on the U.S. economy.
  • There is a strategic shift in U.S. attention from Central Asia to the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Taliban's changed attitude and claim to legitimacy contributed to the decision.
  • Growing public opinion against the American presence in Afghanistan was a significant issue in the 2020 presidential election.

The US-Taliban Agreement started by the Trump administration in February 2020 to bring peace to the strife-torn Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was instrumental in the departure of the U.S. and the Allied Forces from Afghanistan.

However, it was during the Joe Biden tenure that this goal was achieved.

There are the five primary reasons behind the abrupt U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Dwindling public support on home soil has been instrumental in the exit decision by the U.S. government[edit]

After the 9/11 attacks, there was a solid emotional current in the United States, and everyone wanted to punish those responsible for this tragedy. Taliban's close partnership with Al-Qaeda compelled the United States to initiate "Operation Enduring Freedom" and battle the Taliban.

Consequently, the USA army forced the Taliban away from power, and a U.S.-backed Afghan administration gained control.

Some White House officials believed that since Osama bin Laden and other prominent Al-Qaeda members were eliminated, it was no longer critical for the United States to fight terrorism.[1]

China's meteoric rise has caused a shift in the U.S. strategic focus to Asia-Pacific[edit]

The U.S. is compelled to reject China's hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. It formed many forums, including Quad, to challenge the formidable China.

Long-term policy demanded that the United States establish a solid foothold in the Asia-Pacific region. Due to the difficulties of keeping two open fronts simultaneously, the United States decided to withdraw from Afghanistan to focus more on the Asia-Pacific.[2]

Taliban's changed attitude and claim to legitimacy played a role in the departure of the U.S. from Afghanistan[edit]

The current Taliban, referred to as Taliban 2.0, is notably distinct from the Taliban of the past (1994–2001), also known as Taliban 1.0. The modern Taliban are trying to shed their terrorist reputation and seek legitimacy.

Secretary Pompeo Meets With the Taliban Delegation.
Secretary Pompeo Meets With the Taliban Delegation. U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Taliban 2.0 is also significantly stronger than Taliban 1.0. In the past, the Taliban relied on donations and aid from Pakistan's ISI to live. However, the Taliban of today has its economy and generates money from selling narcotics, taxes, and other means.

Training, equipment, and arsenal have all been upgraded. Over the last five years, the Taliban's multiple assaults on American soldiers in Afghanistan made this very evident.[3]

Trump administration believed that negotiations with the Taliban were the only way the U.S. army could exit.[4]

There were massive financial implications of the Afghan war[edit]

The United States has spent more than USD three trillion in the previous two decades on "war on terrorism" related activities.

Maintaining strength levels in such settings is arduous and expensive. The maintenance of the supply chain was also a significant factor. Before the last five years, the whole U.S. military supply chain was stationed in Pakistan, to Pakistan's great benefit.

However, US-Pakistan ties have been strained during the last five years, and the U.S. military supply chain has been affected. Air cargo services shipped all required resources. These expenditures are between USD 45 and USD 50 billion per year, although they exceeded $100 billion per year at the height of the conflict.

The U.S. government finalized the army's withdrawal because the United States' leadership regarded such a massive investment as irresponsible.[5]

The withdrawal was already in motion but also a part of Biden's election manifesto[edit]

The previous U.S. government put the withdrawal of American forces in motion. Trump administration policies and negotiations with the Taliban set the stage for the U.S. exit. The publicized negotiations and Trump's social media tweets turned this decision into a burning election issue.

Before the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden declared that he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan and focus on home issues. This was a part of his electoral promise, as popular public opinion was against the continued American presence in Afghanistan.

When the American people elected him, he was obligated to fulfill this pledge. In one of his speeches, he also stated that the United States is not in Afghanistan to construct a government.

American government believed Afghan terrorism (Al Qaeda) is not a sufficient reason for the United States to invest so much money, and the Taliban is an Afghan domestic issue that the local government should address.[6]


  1. Green, Ted Van; Doherty, Carroll. "Majority of U.S. public favors Afghanistan troop withdrawal; Biden criticized for his handling of situation". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  2. "US politicians are scared of China's rapid rise: Shaun Rein - Global Times". www.globaltimes.cn. Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  3. Wertheim, Saskia Brechenmacher, Rudra Chaudhuri, Ryan Crocker, Judy Dempsey, H. A. Hellyer, Aaron David Miller, Karim Sadjadpour, James Schwemlein, Aqil Shah, Dmitri Trenin, Stephen. "Afghanistan Under the Taliban". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  4. "U.S.-Taliban Peace Deal: What to Know". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  5. "'War rarely goes as planned': New report tallies trillions US spent in Afghanistan, Iraq". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2022-11-11.
  6. "Five Reasons for American Withdrawal from Afghanistan". www.india.com. Retrieved 2022-11-11.