For well over a decade and a half, the United States military has occupied the Middle Eastern country of Afghanistan. It began in the aftermath of the unprecedented terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th, 2001. With terrorists bringing down the Twin Towers and striking the Pentagon, then-President George W. Bush sought to strike back.
But what started as an invasion for the purpose of vengeance has evolved into an endless occupation without realistic goals. Our strike against terrorists to ensure these attacks would never happen again changed into a rebuilding effort, one dedicated to forcing democracy on an undemocratic region and trying to westernize people alien to the concepts.
We’re losing soldiers and hurting our economy, and although President Donald Trump recently announced he was escalating our involvement in the conflict, one prominent United States Senator is speaking out.
Senator Rand Paul, son of vocal war critic Ron Paul, has taken a stand and called for the troops to return home, effectively concluding a stalemate occupation. In a recent op-ed, Paul noted that the invasion has lost its purpose as the scope of the occupation increased.
:We went from striking back against those who attacked us, to regime change, to nation-building, to policing their country for them,” Paul said. “And we do it all now with an authorization that is flimsy at best, with the reason blurred, and the costs now known. We do it with an authorization that was debated and passed before some of our newest military personnel were out of diapers. This isn’t fair to them, to the American people, or to a rational foreign policy.”
It’s important to note the perspective here. The war is now being fought by a number of people who were quite young during the event that triggered the invasion. When the Twin Towers fell, many were just learning to count and starting out school. Throughout their entire childhood, they grew into fine adults. Also during this time, the United States continued to remain in Afghanistan.
The progress of the new recruits over the years? Significant and admirable.
The progress of the United States government’s effort to manage, police and rebuild a far-away country? A disaster and a failure.
The cost has been enormous, as noted by the United States Senator from Kentucky:
Then comes the taxpayer. We have spent over $1 trillion in Afghanistan, and nearly $5 trillion on Middle East wars in the past 15 years. Would we not be better off with $5 trillion less in debt or using these funds in other, more productive ways?
Either political party could find numerous pet projects that these funds would be better spent on. An even better idea would be just rolling back spending and allowing taxpayers to keep more of their own funds. But in either case, it’s better than being used on bombs and endless war.
Even with these economic arguments being made, there could still be a case made that legitimate terrorism exists and must be met on the scene. Paul acknowledges that this may be the case, but also notes that the 2001 authorization fails to extend to this point and any continued involvement must be debated.
This is one of the reasons I objected just before the recess when the Senate moved to consider the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I have an amendment that I will insist be considered that would repeal the 2001 AUMF on Afghanistan. That AUMF is outdated, overcome by events, and provides a feeble bit of cover for people who still want to be there.
If the president and my colleagues want to continue the war in Afghanistan, then at the very least Congress should vote on it. I’ll insist they do this fall, and I’ll be leading the charge for “no.”
Paul continues to show why he is a leading voice of reason and defender of liberty in Congress. War is an important foreign policy issue and one that should always be considered heavily. There was a reason why the Founding Fathers left the declaration of war to Congress.
The authorized purpose of the Afghan invasion has come and gone as military action turned into prolonged occupation. Paul is absolutely correct in his assessment that a conflict that has gone on far too long should be concluded. Bring our honorable soldiers home to their families and stop spending our resources on hopeless adventures.