‘Bring troops home’ is the right message
“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” said President Trump in his State of the Union Address.
“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” said President Trump in his State of the Union Address. The president is correct, and we urge Congress to support, not resist, the scaling back of America’s perpetual wars abroad.
For the past two decades, the United States has found itself embroiled in an ever-expanding set of conflicts without a coherent strategy.
The cost of these conflicts has been immense, in terms of both precious human life and American taxpayer money.
According to the Costs of War Project based out of the Watson Institute at Brown University, the budgetary costs of America’s post-9/11 wars from 2001 through the 2019 fiscal year is about $5.9 trillion, spent and obligated.
When looking at the human toll of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (with spillover effects in Pakistan), the total number of direct deaths has been estimated at between 480,000 and 507,000. This does not include indirect deaths due to war-related disruptions of water and basic infrastructure.
Nor does it include the loss of life in Syria, which has been ravaged by a civil war aggravated by ill-conceived and non-congressionally-authorized U.S. meddling.
Trump has long indicated an inclination toward withdrawing American forces from Syria and resolving the war in Afghanistan.
During his State of the Union speech, Trump reiterated his desire to “to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.”
He also noted ongoing negotiations with the Taliban to try and secure a political resolution to the war in Afghanistan.
“As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counterterrorism,” Trump said.
“We do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”
It’s an instinct that represents a significant departure from the neo-conservative foreign policy worldview that long dominated the Republican Party, and one we encourage him to follow through on.
It must be said that President Trump’s foreign policy message has been a mixed bag.
While non-interventionists should applaud Trump for wanting to end one set of wars, Trump’s hostile rhetoric toward Venezuela and Iran should not be allowed to escalate too far or approach regime-change fights.
As Rep. Justin Amash, RMichigan, said after the SOTU on Twitter, “On foreign policy, the president was hit or miss (as usual), but he’s right that it’s time to bring our forces home from Syria and Afghanistan. One war was never authorized, and the other has gone on for far too long.”
While the United States should always stand for liberty and democracy, regime change and foreign adventurism have long gotten the U.S. stuck in costly commitments with little to no benefit to American national security.
As encouraging as it is to hear that some of America’s wars might be winding down, it’s important that such actions aren’t just at the whims of the president.
Congress, which has long and conveniently ceded its war-making powers to the president, must step up and play more of a role in outlining and voting on the nation’s foreign commitments.
Members of Congress who strongly believe American lives and resources must be put on the line getting involved in other countries should have to put their names on the record in support of doing so, rather than merely allowing wars to drag on with minimal oversight or strategy.
-- Orange County Register, MediaNews Group
For the past two decades, the United States has found itself embroiled in an everexpanding set of conflicts without a coherent strategy.