‘Bring troops home’ is the right mes­sage

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - -- Orange County Reg­is­ter, MediaNews Group

“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.

For the past two decades, the United States has found it­self em­broiled in an ev­er­ex­pand­ing set of con­flicts with­out a co­her­ent strat­egy.

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