Trump Deserves Credit for Bringing the Troops Home
Initiating withdrawals from Afghanistan and Germany is a good step and one he should follow up on.
In 1988, a certain congressman from Texas ran for president on a platform of bringing home our troops from around the world. Even then, more than 30 years ago, U.S. troops were in over 100 countries, and tens of thousands were still in Europe.
That Texas congressman was my father, Ron Paul, who 20 years later ran again for the presidency and was still calling “to begin bringing American troops home from around the world—an absolute necessity if the budget is ever to be brought under control. We’re going broke and we still have 75,000 troops in Germany?”
In his best-selling book The Revolution, my father wrote: “We can either withdraw gracefully, as I propose, or we can stay in our fantasy world and wait until bankruptcy forces us to scale back our foreign commitments.”
This week, President Trump called for a modest reduction of American troops in Germany, reducing them from 34,500 to 25,000 (a great start that will hopefully lead to further reductions there). The Republican neocon caucus responded exactly as you would expect. You’d think the Berlin Wall was still in place and two million Russians were about to invade Germany. Utter nonsense.
With the Cold War now 30 years moribund, the hysteria over removing troops is ludicrous. Meanwhile the very real threat of bankruptcy and menacing debt grows each day. Just this year, the United States will add $4 trillion to the national debt. Can the Germans afford to defend themselves? Without question. Germany actually balances its annual budget every year.
Yet the U.S. still has about 170,000 troops in about 150 countries at great expense in both lives and treasure. Often that puts our soldiers on the front lines of civil wars whose origins we barely even comprehend. The U.S. also becomes allied with governments, such as Saudi Arabia, that are barbaric, despotic, and anti-American. And yet the cycle continues because the war caucus vows to never, ever let our troops come home.
President Trump is also advocating ending our nation’s longest war in Afghanistan. It couldn’t happen soon enough. The American taxpayer is paying $50 billion a year to build roads and bridges in that country, while our own nation’s infrastructure crumbles.
President Trump has also discussed having fewer troops in South Korea, and has actually forced Seoul to pay more for our presence. Possibly the best aspect of the Trump presidency, though, has been his willingness to challenge the bipartisan neoconservative consensus on forever war.
Yet critics, including myself, will admit the Trump presidency has not always practiced what it’s preached here. While Trump has consistently advocated for fewer troops in Europe, he has re-introduced U.S. troops into Saudi Arabia, a mistake that eventually will lead to more war or terrorism or both.
But today, give credit where credit is due. Trump, the disrupter, is right to bring the troops home. And I say don’t stop until we once again have a military whose primary job is to defend America.
Rand Paul is a Republican senator from Kentucky.