End the War in Afghanistan

Afghanistan can be said to be America’s forgotten war. We have been involved in Afghanistan for fifteen years, which provides plenty of time to grow accustomed to the situation and eventually ignorant. Since the Taliban have not been able to directly attack us it is in a sense a peaceful war. We are much more inclined to the situation involving ISIS as they have launched a barrage of terrorists attacks through Europe and the United States. It’s easy to forget you are at war when there are no visible signs of it in your daily life. As George Orwell wrote in 1984 “War is peace.”

Breaking the trend of silence the Trump administration recently stated they could send up to three thousand additional soldiers to bolster the Afghanistan government and help in the fight against the Taliban. However sending more of our men in harm’s way has garnered little media attention. I would be surprised if anyone knew since the media obsesses over anything that could be treated as a scandal regarding President Trump. 

“But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous… It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.”

The Afghanistan War seems to be the best proof of Orwell’s sentiment.

After fifteen years of armed conflict and a price tag of a staggering $685.6 billion dollars we are no closer to securing peace in Afghanistan. Our policy of foreign intervention has failed spectacularly and it’s time to end it. We should no longer put the lives of our brave men and women at sake for wars that we gain nothing from.

It’s time to end the war in Afghanistan once and for all. I am for the full withdrawal of all US military personnel and equipment from Afghanistan.

Now I am sure some will be concerned that without our help Afghanistan will be faced with a power vacuum, and that the Taliban may use it to their advantage. It is certainly possible given the outcome of the US withdrawal from Iraq. However the number of US troops in Afghanistan is only 8400, and even then is limited in its roles. It mainly trains and supports the local soldiers, as well as providing support to counter terrorism operations. It is also worth noting that even after the surge of ISIS the Iraqi army is pushing them out of their country. They are only three districts away from liberating Mosul, a key ISIS stronghold. Iraqi army officials say by taking it they could drive ISIS out of Iraq.

It is far more important for Afghanistan to become self reliant rather than continuously depend on us. If they can not learn to stand on their own two feet after all this time it is not our problem. Iraq, along with the help of the Kurds, learned to adjust without US ground troops and are managing to fend for themselves.

Meanwhile those in power in Afghanistan seem little worried about the fate of their country. Corruption runs rampant, soldiers are given little ammo and are paid little money. Major General M. Moein Faqir, commander of the 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army was arrested in 2015 for misuse of money to supply food to his soldiers. Faqir was originally appointed to end corruption, and like many others in command are now being charged with what they pledged to eliminate. If we were to leave it just might encourage them to spend more on trying to preserve their country instead of lining their pockets. Nothing encourages accountability when you have a massive safety net.

We should stop making countries reliant and instead have them be able to preserve themselves. If only the Donald from a few years ago was the one we had today.

The Dangers of a Reactionary Foreign Policy

Last week on the 6th of April the United States launched fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria in response to a chemical attack carried out by the government. Trump said in a statement following the attack “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” This is a dramatic reversal from his prior statements and indications during the campaign that he would stay out of Syria.

His explanation for his changed policy is seeing the images of the chemical attack. “When you kill innocent children — innocent babies — babies — little babies with a chemical gas that is so lethal, people were shocked to hear what gas it was, that crosses many, many lines. Beyond a red line, many, many lines.” There is no questioning or debating the heinous attack upon civilians, but it is no reason to entangle the United States in Syria.

Despite what President Trump says there is no national security interest in attacking Assad. The chemical attacks did not harm Americans, nor does it place any of us at risk. What does place us at risk is bombing an ally of Russia. Attacking Assad will only weaken his ability to fight ISIS, a group we both want eradicated. In an interview in September 28, 2015 Trump told an interviewer, “Why can’t we let ISIS and Syria fight? Let Russia, let them fight ISIS.”

Not to mention the increase in tensions between Russia and the United States that will naturally come from attacking one of its allies. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a conference at Moscow “The current state of U.S.-Russia relations is at a low point. There is a low-level of trust between our two countries. The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship.” A proxy war between opposing Syrian forces would benefit no one, and would only instill more hatred for the west in the middle east.

If Trump’s recent reactionary foreign policy holds it could be detrimental to the United States and the rest of the world. Prematurely reacting to foreign crises will only create more problems. Syria is currently engulfed in six year long civil war, with various groups fighting for control. You have the government, ISIS, and the various rebel groups fighting against each other for dominance. It is a multi front war with no clear group that would be best to lead if Assad and ISIS were taken out. With the United States long record of making countries worse by removing the current leaders you would think we would have learned by now not to meddle in other countries.

Sadly there seems to be no shortage of politicians and leaders who think they know the solution to other countries affairs. Their arrogance in believing they know how to fix other countries has only made the world a more dangerous place. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya are the prime examples of our failed nation building policy. The establishment politicians couldn’t even understand the support for Trump, so why should we expect them to understand the intricacies of foreign politics?

The other dangers posed by a reactionary foreign policy is the debt it would cause for the country. A study by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs reveals that the War on Terror has costed the United states $4.79 trillion dollars. And what do we have to show for it? A more turbulent Middle East, dead and injured soldiers, and wars drawn out for far too long. With the already massive national debt of $19 trillion very close to reaching $20 trillion we can not afford to squander additional money. We should be focusing on ways to reduce our debt problem instead of wasting it on foreign wars that do not serve our national interest.

Most importantly however is the ceding of power from Congress to the executive branch. Congress holds the power to approve and declare war, and attacking another country with Tomahawk missiles is undoubtedly an act of war. However due to prior precedent Trump felt no obligation to go before Congress and ask for permission. Only a few Democratic and Republican voices brought up the legality of the strikes, but they were drowned out from the praise of fellow lawmakers and foreign leaders.

If there is so little opposition to Trump initiating military action against an ally of Russia then what is stopping him from reacting to other events he finds distasteful? The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists passed in September 2001 gives blanket ability for the president “To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States. Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens.” While Assad is not responsible for September 11 this act of Congress began the transfer of power between the two branches. It has been abused to the point where the president does not even feel the need to bother with asking congress. If Congress does not act to reign back its constitutional authority we will only find ourselves in more conflicts.

Perhaps the best closing statement would be an old quote from the Donald himself.