The Afghanistan withdrawal sees critique among American citizens – including UF students

By: Corinthia Webster

The Afghanistan withdrawal is everywhere in the news, but for some students, these events hit close to home

Americans are in an uproar over the recent events that have taken place in Afghanistan. Many Americans believe we pulled out to quickly and ruined everything we had fought for in the past 20 years. People have attacked President Biden’s decision and blamed him for the blood on his hands.  However, in February 2020, the Trump Administration signed a withdrawal treaty to slowly remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan, leaving Afghanistan forces to face the Taliban on their own.

Still, many Americans do not agree with how quickly United States pulled out, leaving billions of dollars of military vehicles, weapons, and equipment in Afghanistan. The Biden Administration acknowledged a ‘fair amount’ of U.S. weaponry had fallen into the hands of the Taliban, The Hill reported. Over three billion dollars have been sent to Afghanistan Forces this year alone, Forbes reports.

One individual, Wesley Walko, a freshman Pre-Veterinarian and Western Horse Training double major at UF, served in the Marine Corp for 4 years. At that time he was stationed in Iwakuni, Japan as a KC 130 aircraft mechanic and painter. 

Walko also served with numerous individuals who were stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of which lost his life due to an IED. Walko said that knowing these people has “definitely changed [his] prospective at what really goes on over there.” 

Makenzie Lape is a freshman phycology major at UF, is not in the military, but her boyfriend of four years is currently going through basic training. She relays current events – including Afghanistan and other information to him via letters and a weekly phone call to base. 

While both agree Biden is trying to try to move the troops out of Afghanistan, the students say it was not done in the correct way. Lape said, “we have already seen the 13 lives lost from the Thursday suicide bombing and I think it’s a very tricky situation he is in right now.”  Walko agreed in the fact that America should have never been over in Afghanistan for that long. However, he disagreed with the president’s choice “to withdraw basically overnight.” 

In addition to what is going on in Afghanistan, there and numerous things going on around the world and it leaves us wondering what our situation without allies would look like. Walko argued that from these events, “there is definitely going to be a lot of strain.” He added that he “would expect another major war in the next two to three years,” that would force out allies to choose a side and if or how they would aid that side.  

When asked if we should allow Afghans who help our country access to come over both agreed that they should be awarded that. Although both said our government should look at it logistically and legally. Walko gave the idea of an expedited visa or green card.  

One major question that has been brought up in past weeks since the withdrawal and consequent toppling of the Afghanistan government: Did the American soldiers give their lives in the war do it in vain? While both agreed that America should have withdrawn a while ago, both agreed that it wasn’t in vain because soldiers have given their lives for our freedom. Rather, Walko said it should be taken as a “slap to the face” to the rest of the country. 

Noting the division within the United States, Walko added: “Two parties divided, the house cannot stand.”

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