$2.313 Trillion dollars in American taxpayer money has been spent on the Afghanistan War. Along with the Iraq War, it will forever define the legacy of George W. Bush with the 43rd President of the United States of America, in office from January 20th of 2001 to January 20th of 2009.
The Bush Administration has changed the country in many ways and has had everlasting effects in America. This often begs the question: How did the Bush Administration change the United States?
Former President Bush is categorized as a Neoconservative politician. While he carried out other legislation during his presidency such as: No Child Left Behind Act, Energy Act, Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and the Mexico City Policy, his response to the 9/11 attacks continue to have the longest lasting impact on our nation.
National Security became extremely different after the events of 9/11 due to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) taking over transportation security. New security measures were beyond simply searching luggage and passengers. Stricter airport security came hand-in-hand with profiling and harsher interrogations by customs and other security officials.
A hike in security wasn’t the only change Americans faced during the presidency of George W. Bush. The “Great Recession” from 2007 to 2009 took a substantial toll on Americans. Caused by an increase in subprime (home loans granted to borrowers with poor credit) mortgages, it left many working Americans in debt.
Nationwide, the Patriot Act made it easier for government security agencies to obtain information on people of interest with increased surveillance. Many believe it was used to justify war tactics on foreign sites and is often cited with the scandal of Guantanamo Bay. Additionally, mounting evidence has surfaced proving the surveillance was much more widespread, reaching beyond suspects and into the lives of average Americans.
Under the Bush Administration,there were reports of war crimes being committed by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most notorious being Abu Ghraib in Iraq where prisoners were being tortured unconstitutionaly to retrieve information on terror attacks. Though the administration initially denied the reports in 2007, it ended up admitting to them in 2014.
The reports included evidence such as photographs of sexual and physical abuse toward prisoners. These tactics are illegal and confirmed by the supreme court in 2006, proving that national security is not a defense for the Bush Administration’s tactics.
The Afghanistan war began on October 7th of 2001. President Bush’s reason for the war was to overthrow the Taliban, destroy Al-Qaeda, and capture Osama Bin Laden as part of his “War on terror”. This war was defined by the administration heavily changing national security procedures in the U.S.
So far the Afghanistan war has caused the death of 2,448 American Service members, 3,846 U.S. contractors, 66,000 Afghan military/police, 1,144 NATO members, 47,245 Afghan civilians, 51,191 Taliban members, 444 Aid workers, and 72 journalists.
Many presidents vowed to finally get America out of Afghanistan, regardless of political party, from President Obama to Trump to Biden. President Trump set the final date for the departure of the U.S. Troops from Afghanistan and President Biden proceeded with and oversaw the withdrawal of troops. Biden received criticism on the process that left Kabul in shambles, resulting in the displacement of close to half a million people, on top of the already 2.2 million Afghan refugees that have fled since the war began. He firmly stands by his choice claiming in a speech, “That was the choice, the real choice between leaving or escalating […] I was not going to extend this forever war.”
While the majority of Americans did not want to continue the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, it is difficult not to question whether this nation was made worse by U.S. invasion. This did not affect the United States as much
as it affected, and still affects the Afghan people who are being left to the Taliban. Women’s rights especially have been affected, they have little to no human rights and do not have access to education anymore. Many children are at risk of starvation. The “Forever War” still continues even if U.S. troops are not there.
The question at hand has been pondered many times before, how has the Bush administration changed the United States? The simplest answer is that it was changed for the worse, along with the rest of the world that has had to bear the consequences of this president’s actions.