Biden to pull troops from war in Afghanistan. Photojournalist Lynsey Addario feels conflicted

A U.S. Army soldier conducts a patrol with a platoon of Afghan national army soldiers to check on conditions in the village of Yawez, Wardak province, Afghanistan, Feb. 17, 2010. Photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest (CC BY 2.0).

President Joe Biden today announced his plan to fully withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. The war in Afghanistan is the longest in American history — approaching 20 years. It’s sometimes called “the forever war.” 

It’s now spanned four administrations, and Biden says he does not want to pass the responsibility to another fifth, even though the Taliban remains a powerful force in the country.

Biden's decision is facing mixed reviews, with some lawmakers worried that pulling out too quickly would mean disaster for the war-torn country, and it could reverse the small gains Afghan women have made under the U.S. occupation. 

KCRW talks about this with Lynsey Addario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who has covered the war in Afghanistan for the New York Times and Time Magazine. She traveled to Afghanistan multiple times prior to the U.S. invasion — to document life for women living under Taliban rule.

She says she’s conflicted over this news. “I love Afghanistan. I love Afghan people. I've covered the war from every angle possible. And I certainly would never want to leave the people I've come to love and know over many years — with no security. But I don't really know the answer. You know, how long can we stay there? Our sort of mission has changed over so many years.”

She recalls that the first time she was in Afghanistan in 2000, all forms of entertainment were illegal, and women couldn’t get educated or work outside the home. “The only women I saw on the street were widows begging, because they had no source of income because their husbands were dead. It was really like a city of ghosts. It was really like nothing else I have ever seen in my life.”

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