Oct. 7, 2001 – how many of us hadn’t been born when we went to war? A large portion of college students have lived their entire lives experiencing the U.S.'s war with the Middle East. This generation has become the beneficiary of a 20 year conflict that has engulfed politics, religion and world culture, not to mention many lives.

Those born after the 9/11 terrorist attacks are old enough to enlist, to fight for a war they’re not old enough to truly understand. They’ve become the new wave in the cycle of struggle that has highlighted our history in the Middle East, particularly Afghanistan.

With just that laid on the table it appears like a full- fledged retreat from the area seems appropriate. However, a hasty withdrawal would create a power vacuum most likely filled by the Taliban. If that’s an easy conclusion to reach, then why did we make this exact choice?

While leaving Afghanistan saves lives, it places countless others in danger. These include our allies and service members in charge of the mass exodus.

Benefited by hindsight we can see that this was folly, well-meaning but costly. By removing our presence, we welcome in other occupying forces with agendas less than centered on human rights.

Our time in Afghanistan was aided immeasurably by our allies. From interpreters and siblings in arms to moral support and counsel, they paved the way to any successes we had in the region. These poor individuals are who we are abandoning, left in front of the charging new regime.

Global pressure, economic and militant, has led to a greater expansion of women’s rightsin Afghanistan. Education has become more accessible, no longer hidden away under a patriarchal lock and key.

These women who have so greatly benefited by our aid will lose so much if we merely abandon our post without a replacement plan. Their daughters will be forced away from the liberation of schooling and back into Sharia Law.

The Taliban has made promises as to its future treatment of protected classes, but after our soldiers are gone, our command stations leveled, what remains of those words?

Now there are those who defend this retreat, content to stop “policing the world,” and to settle back in American borders. How nice would that sentiment be to hold onto if the images of refugees weren’t burned into your brains?

Now, I was born during a war, raised in a culture constantly shaking from the clash of terrorism and righteous vengeance, and I would loveto begin my 20s at peace. Unfortunately, I can’t close my eyes and accept the placations of “the war is over!”

If we leave without a second’s thought, then we finish building halfway through our house’s construction. We fought for safety, retribution and an expanding sense of global rights, but now we seem content to let our efforts fall by the wayside.

I am by no means saying that a protracted war is desirable, or even the proper course of action, but a harsh and resounding halt to aid in the region has proved a disaster. We are to a point where our options are limited and running out. Backed into a corner, we must decide to move forward on a path to peace with nonviolent tools.

Being given the opportunity to learn in one of the most prosperous nations on Earth has given each one of us the unique vantage point to view world events. From that precipice we get to choose our stances on global issues, including that beautiful freedom of speech.

We all, by participation in the civic world have the ability to demand of our leaders that which we want to see in the world. From failings at home to those abroad, it is our duty to stand up for what we believe.

Now the question becomes, "what do you believe?"

Dawson Neely is the opinion editor. Follow him on Twitter: @DawsonNeely.