Gil Barndollar is a principal investigator, a senior fellow at Defense Priorities, and served in Afghanistan and Guantanamo as a US Marine. He explains that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have not been the best response to the attack:
“I think it is very clear that it was not the best response to the attack. I do not think you can talk about these wars now, 20 years after 9/11, and not say that they were failures. The United States spent about six and a half billion, probably much more when all was said and done. Seven thousand American soldiers killed and hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in these wars that left, you know, a great ruin. The withdrawal from Afghanistan I think was planned. It was scheduled for years. the way it came about was obviously humiliating for the United States. But I don’t think you can think about these wars and believe that they were the best way to deal with a terrorist attack against the United States. “
What do you think of the last 20 years of war that have led the Taliban to regain control just before the last American troops left the country last month?
“I think it’s a legacy of 20 years of arrogance and self-deception on the part of the United States. We came in with a fairly limited set of goals. It was about overthrowing the Taliban, teaching them a lesson, and decimating al Qaeda. And all of that actually happened. despite not having caught bin Laden in the first six or eight months of the mission. So all that came after was, again, there’s no other way to put it, a disaster. America tried to build a stable country, centralized and to some extent westernized in Afghanistan, and that was a complete failure. And those ambitions were always very unrealistic. “
Should the United States and its allies return to Afghanistan at some point?
“No, that is, I have written on this subject, but I do not consider that there is … the only reason to return to Afghanistan is to attack international terrorists who have both the intention and the ability to attack the United States. Without that, There is no reason for US troops to be in Afghanistan. We can shake our heads and be appalled at a lot of things that have happened in Afghanistan to date and are likely to happen in the future in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, but none Of those issues, no matter how bad they are, is of vital national interest to the United States. “
What should the fight against terrorism on US soil focus on from now on?
“Well, I think we have to protect America from within, and I am not in the least in favor of a new Patriot Act or new violations of the civil liberties of Americans, the surveillance of Americans, the new police powers and lack of responsibility, were the worst consequences of the reaction to September 11. We must focus on protecting Americans in America. We have extensive tools to do so. I think it is a very different world than 20 years ago. There is no no reason to go overseas looking for monsters to kill, you know, to use an old phrase from American history, the president. “