Should the troops come home?

Britni Williams

TImeline of the War on Terror

  • Oct. 7, 2001 — The war in Afghanistan begins. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • December 2001: The Battle at Tora Bora rages in Afghanistan. Before escaping U.S. capture, bin Laden signs a last will and testament on Dec. 14, 2001. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • March 20, 2003 — The U.S. invades Iraq. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Dec. 13, 2003 – Saddam Hussein is captured. He is brought to trial under the Iraqi interim government. On Nov. 5, 2006, he is convicted of charges related to the 1982 killing of 148 Iraqi Shi’ites and was sentenced to death by hanging. Saddam is executed on Dec. 30, 2006. Source: Dayton Daily News
  • Oct. 29, 2004 — A videotape surfaces days before the U.S. presidential election in which bin Laden admits responsibility for 9/11. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Feb. 27, 2009 – President Obama announces his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. Source: The Washington Post
  • May 1, 2011 — Bin Laden killed in a U.S. raid on his compound in Pakistan. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • June 22, 2011 – President Obama announces his plan to withdraw 33,000 “surge” troops from Afghanistan. Source: The Washington Post

In February 2009, President Obama announced his plan to withdraw most troops from Iraq by August 2010.

He said the rest would leave by Dec. 31, 2011.

In his June 22 speech, he announced his plan to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and to withdraw another 23,000 U.S. troops by next summer. He also mentioned Afghanistan would become responsible for its own security by 2014.

But according to Brookings Iraq Index, by the end of August 2010 there were still roughly 49,700 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. As of June 30, 2011, about 46,000 U.S. troops were still there.

And the question of whether they should leave has remained a part of political conversation, both at Kent State and elsewhere, since the president made his announcement.

James Hojnowski, senior integrated social studies major, said he understands why there shouldn’t be a massive withdrawl of troops from Afghanistan.

“Right now, we are in a situation in Afghanistan that we would probably do a lot of damage to the people of that country if we did just pull out arbitrarily,” Hojnowski said. “We need to make sure the situation is very stable over there with a trustworthy government in place before we can say, ‘OK, well let’s leave.’”

Hojnowski added that he wants to see the troops come home, but because the U.S. committed to the situation, the forces need to be responsible.

“When you go into another country and you take out their government, you kind of make that your own problem,” he said. “It isn’t fair to go around destroying governments and then just walking away. That’s how a lot of extremist governments come into place.”

Jeremy Fischer, junior philosophy major, agreed there needs to be an exit strategy with the troops, but “it should be moving a lot quicker than it is.”

“I think the War on Terror was a bad idea to start with,” Fischer said. “To continue it in any way is just a waste of money and people’s lives.”

Fischer said he doesn’t think the U.S. should have invaded Iraq at all.

“I think a lot of the basic premises of us going to war against other people’s ideals are kind of senseless,” Fischer said.

Fischer said he didn’t think Afghanistan was completely pointless, but he doesn’t think it was handled correctly.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t have done something, but most of it just seems like it was poorly planned out,” Fischer said. “Now we’re so thoroughly in it that we can’t really just get out of it.”

Ryan Smith, junior teaching English as second language major, said he thinks the troops have done a great job, and it’s time for them to come home.

“I know a couple of people that have been over in the gray, and it’s a very nerve-wracking thought,” Smith said. “You see all the footage from the media with the families crying that their sons have to go off to fight, and I don’t really sympathize with that but then once I had someone that’s over there you realize this shit’s real.”

Smith said the only reason he believes U.S. troops should be overseas now is if there was some task at hand that only U.S. troops could do, but he doesn’t believe this is the case.

Smith was very clear: If troops are left in Iraq and Afghanistan, “there better be a damn good reason.”

Contact Britni Williams at [email protected].