Barack Obama criticised for building ‘shrine’ by Greenwald
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US President Joe Biden has defended his administration’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban begins to take control of large swathes of the country. The extremist organisation has seized nine of the country’s 34 provincial capitals, and it is likely they will expand their control. Mr Biden told reporters Tuesday: “I do not regret my decision. Afghan leaders have to come together. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”
The US-led military campaign in Afghanistan began in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on American soil, but now most of the foreign troops have pulled out.
Mr Biden also had to deal with the Afghan issue while Vice-President under Barack Obama.
A new book has made damning claims about Mr Obama, accusing the former President of misleading his country about ending the long war.
Craig Whitlock, author of The Afghanistan Papers, castigated Mr Obama for declaring the war was over.
He said that the “baldfaced” declaration ranked as “among the most egregious deceptions and lies that US leaders spread during two decades of warfare.”
Mr Whitlock wrote that the statement was made by Mr Obama in Hawaii in December 2014, and that it was promised US troops would only operate in Afghanistan in an advisory capacity.
But US fighting in Afghanistan continued, something President Obama conceded in October 2015.
He said at the time that 5,500 troops would remain in the country until after he had left office.
The former President said: “I do not support the idea of endless war, and I have repeatedly argued against marching into open-ended military conflicts.
“Yet given what’s at stake in Afghanistan, I am firmly convinced that we should make this extra effort.”
In his first term, Mr Obama ordered a “surge” 100,000 troops to try and accelerate progress in Afghanistan and put an end to the war.
From 2009-11 there was a big US presence in the country, but still the fighting continued.
In December 2014, when Mr Obama declared the war was done, only 38 percent of the US public said the conflict had been worth fighting, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Between 2010 to 2012, the cost of the war grew to almost $100billion (£72billion) a year, according to US government figures.
This spending had decreased to around $45billion (£32billion) a year by 2018.
Calculating the overall cost of the war is difficult – but the BBC reports that the figure stands at around $822billion (£595billion) between 2001 and 2019 based on official data.
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According to a Brown University study in 2019, which has looked at war spending in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US had spent around $978billion (£708billion).
As for the UK, the Government revealed in June that the war has cost British taxpayers around £22billion.
As British troops also prepare to leave Afghanistan, the cost is likely to be higher than this figure because it only counts cash from a special Whitehall pot for the conflict.
Defence Minister James Heappey said: “As at May 2021, the total cost of Operation Herrick to HM Treasury Special Reserve is £22.2billion.
“There were 457 fatalities on, or subsequently due to, Op Herrick. Of which 403 were due to hostile action.
“Op Herrick ran between January 1, 2006 and November 30, 2014, during which there were 10,382 UK Service personnel casualties. Of these 5,705 were injuries, and the remainder being illness or disease,” said Mr Heappey.
“Between January 1, 2006 and March 31, 2021, there were 645 UK Service personnel who were categorised as very seriously injured, seriously injured or who sustained a traumatic or surgical amputation due to Op Herrick.
“This includes any amputations in recent years that were elective or necessary during treatment as a result of previous injuries sustained.”
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