Should the United States Have Invaded Afghanistan? – A Debate

Note – this blog does not necessarily reflect my personal opinion and is a collective debate.  All work herein was written by myself, with exceptions and references being listed in the reference section.


The debatable issue is whether or not the United States military should have invaded Afghanistan on the pretense of defending the homeland following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  Determining which arguments are valid and invalid is the main focus of this debate.  Researching various ethical, moral, and legal issues assisted with making the ultimate determination on whether or not the United States military should have invaded Afghanistan.  After extensive research, it has been determined that it was right and justifiable for the United States military to invade Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon.  Implications of this determination include many valid moral and legal issues that are raised throughout the argument.  These moral and legal issues argue against the United States military invasion of Afghanistan, but overall, are not enough to sustain the opposing arguments.  The collective decision determines that it was the right thing to do when the United States military chose to take action and invade Afghanistan.


With so many varying, conflicting opinions in regard to the United States’ decision about invading Afghanistan, the debate surrounding the topic is obviously going to be very heated.  One notable argument is that having the U.S. military present in Afghanistan ensures that no further terrorist attacks will take place in the future.  A second notable argument is that after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, terrorism alerts have been on an all-time high and the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan lessens this threat.  A third notable argument against the decision to invade Afghanistan is that having the U.S. military in Afghanistan increases the threat of prisoners of war.  Considering all sides, the debate about ethical, moral, and legal issues encompasses a wide range of valid arguments.



The argument about having the U.S. military invade Afghanistan based on whether or not terrorist attacks will continue is very flawed and quite weak.  While the notion is a good one and the threat of terrorism is undeniably real, just because the U.S. has invaded Afghanistan does not necessarily mean that terrorist threats have become obsolete altogether.  What it does mean is that the threat of terrorism is lessened, and as such, becomes much more manageable both currently and in the future.  To say that having the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan rids the world of terroristic threats completely is obviously flawed logic because there are many other ways in which terrorists can be threatening and plot attacks anywhere, in any country.  However, on October 9, 2001, the “Taliban leader, Mullah Omar flees the city, leaving it under tribal law” (Council on Foreign Relations, 2013).  Even though the leader of the Taliban was on the run, subsequent leaders of Al-Qaeda still remained, hiding in Afghanistan at this particular time.  This brings up many ethical as well as moral concerns, because if leaders of Al-Qaeda still remain in hiding, they are putting U.S. soldiers directly in the path of harm.  One notable legal concern about this particular argument is the United States’ own opposition to the International Criminal Court.  “The International Criminal Court (ICC) is designed to track down international terrorists” (Tolworthy, 2002).  Interestingly enough however, the U.S. was directly involved in the composition of the original Rome Statute, which is a legal statute requiring the signatures of 60 countries in order for the International Criminal Court to commence.  If the U.S. would have signed this document back in 2002, it is entirely possible that the U.S. military might not have even had to invade Afghanistan, or could have done so without the need for bombing them.

After both of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon, terrorist alerts were higher than ever across the globe.  Because of these alerts, the argument discussing whether or not the United States’ military presence is lessening the threat becomes a necessary discussion.  Ethical and moral issues surrounding this argument include the killing of innocents, or casualties of war.  This is something that happens any time a country is bombed; people who did nothing to warrant a violent death still sometimes receive one, and it is unjustifiable.  The only argument which can defend the innocent people who died for nothing is the one that prevents terrorism.  Basically, if the U.S. military is preventing further deaths in the name of terrorism, then casualties of war are just that.  When the U.S. bombed Afghanistan in 2001, it was considered an act of terrorism on Afghanistan.  This would be the major legal issue with this particular argument.  Innocent people died just like when the Twin Towers collapsed.  So, the argument about preventing terrorism through bombing does not really hold much weight.  Preventing terrorism with the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is still a valid argument, however, because when threatened with retaliation, Al-Qaeda cannot make a move without causing trouble with the U.S.

With U.S. military in Afghanistan, the threat of prisoners of war became very real when horrific videos depicting innocent people were distributed throughout America by members of Al-Qaeda.  Videos of beheadings, as well as the act itself, of innocent Americans were becoming the ways that Al-Qaeda terrorized the U.S. even with military presence.  Thus, the argument about increasing the probability of prisoners of war becomes valid, backed with video evidence.  Moral and ethical issues pertaining to this argument include the impact on human life.  Prisoners of war were impacted through torture and death.  The American public, as well as anyone who has seen these gruesome videos, has been impacted by the visions which are not readily dismissed.  Committing such heinous and torturous acts surely boosted the egos of the members of Al-Qaeda, as they most likely felt that they were still a threat to American safety.  Legal issues surrounding this argument include murder, both legalized and publicized.  War involves killing, and as such, becomes legalized murder.  Taking prisoners and killing them is illegal, but is still publicized through videos.  Proponents of the war in Afghanistan might argue that this is a necessary evil, and only fuels the fire when it comes to the war on terror.  Opponents of the war in Afghanistan might say that this is all the more reason to get our troops out of Afghanistan and back home where they belong.

Out of the three arguments, the most persuasive one is the second one:  having the U.S. military in Afghanistan lessens the threat of terroristic attacks.  The reasons for this are several.  First, the Taliban leader abandoned his post after U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.  Second, there have been no other attacks originating from the Taliban or Al-Qaeda since the U.S. has invaded.  At least, this is what the media has proposed.  Third, Osama bin Laden is dead, and he was the main leader behind both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.  Again, there is no evidence aside from media releases to support that bin Laden is dead, but that is what the public is to believe.  Overall, when reflecting on all arguments brought forth, the one involving the U.S. military in Afghanistan and how it has lessened the threat of terrorism is the strongest one, because of major leadership dismantlement to both the Taliban as well as Al-Qaeda.

The two weaker arguments in this debate are that having the U.S. military in Afghanistan ensures no more terrorist attacks, and having the U.S. military in Afghanistan increases the threat of prisoners of war.  These arguments are flawed and easily debatable.  There is no way to totally ensure that terrorist attacks will not continue, and having the U.S .military presence in Afghanistan is not an insurance policy against terrorism.  While it is true that having the U.S. military in Afghanistan increases the threat of prisoners of war, this is not a strong enough argument because there is always a threat of prisoners of war in any sort of conflict between nations involving military.  It also can be debated by simply stating the facts about what positive things have occurred in both Afghanistan and the U.S. as a result of U.S. military invasion.  “A decision to justify the killing and grievous bodily harm of often thousands of our fellow human beings, including an increasing number of innocent women and children, will always remain a moral issue of the first order” (MacInnes, 2010).  Legal arguments can be presented and realistic, but Scott MacInnes has a point regarding war being a moral issue.  Because of the deaths of millions of innocents, war is never the best choice.  In this instance of terrorism, war is the only choice.  Easily supported, even by opponents of war, the decision for the U.S. to invade Afghanistan has done more good for the future of the world.  This war on terrorism will never end, which is a sad prospect, but when reflecting on all the lives lost on September 11, 2001, one can easily see why it is a necessary evil.



The strongest argument being that U.S. military presence in Afghanistan helps prevent future terrorist attacks still has its flaws.  First, the U.S. actually committed an act of terrorism by bombing Afghanistan.  This employs the theory of revenge, and presents arguments such as two wrongs do not make a right, and fighting fire with fire.  Second, the U.S. killed innocent people by going to war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in retaliation for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.  Creating casualties of war is something that comes with any sort of combat, so to say these innocent people in Afghanistan died for nothing would not be totally accurate, in retrospect.  They died for the same reasons that the innocent people in the World Trade Center and Pentagon died; in the name of terrorism.  The fact that the U.S. military in Afghanistan has been the catalyst for positive events like dismantling the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, killing Osama bin Laden, and preventing many terrorist attacks, makes it the strongest argument in the debate surrounding whether or not the United States should have invaded Afghanistan.  Taking all sides into account, the debate about ethical, moral, and legal issues serves as a strong platform for many arguments.



Council on Foreign Relations (2013).  U.S. War in Afghanistan Interactive Timeline Retrieved from:

MacInnes, S. (2010). An Ethical Debate on the War in Afghanistan, ABC            Retrieved from:

Tolworthy, C. (2002). What Laws Were Broken by Invading Afghanistan?, Global Issues Retrieved from:

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