Trump is Right, It’s Time To Get Out of Afghanistan
Withdrawal is a duty, not an impulse. The president should ignore the national security establishment.
The American people want out of Afghanistan. Americas veterans want out of Afghanistan. Unfortunately every time President Trump mentions his intention to end the war and bring the troops home, the media, the DC national security establishment (AKA the swamp), and anti-Trumpers argue that the sky will fall if this president ends our nation’s longest war that hasn’t had a definable mission for nearly a decade.
Unsurprisingly, a week ago, The Wall Street Journal editorial board took a swipe at the president claiming that the Taliban knows he wants to withdraw troops before the election in order to declare victory, and will act impulsively to meet that objective.
The WSJ is wrong. First of all, we are well past “declaring victory.” We accomplished the mission we set out to do long ago. If that is your justification for staying, you’ve already lost the argument. Afghanistan is not winnable in the way, say, World War II was, no matter how hard the swamp tries to sell it every time Trump brings up withdrawal. Second, Trump is right—ending the war and bringing the troops home for good is not acting impulsively. It’s being smart and actually standing up to the DC establishment (conservatives included) who are attempting to hold on to control of the war machine.
President Trump responded in a tweet, “The Wall Street Journal Editorial states that it doesn’t want me to act in an ‘impulsive’ manner in Afghanistan. Could somebody please explain to them that we have been there for 19 years, and while soldier counts are way down now, hardly impulsive.”
“Besides, the Taliban is mixed about even wanting us to get out, They make a fortune $$$ by having us stay, and except at the beginning, we never really fought to win. We are more of a police force than the mighty military that we are, especially now as rebuilt. No, I am not acting impulsively!”
We’ve seen previous presidents and administrations not have the courage to make the decision to bring home the troops from Afghanistan. From the beginning, President Trump has stood boldly on this issue and understands how badly the war has been mismanaged and has said the war needs to come to an end.
The Washington Post released the Afghanistan Papers at the end of 2019, which surprisingly received almost no attention on the national stage. It didn’t even dominate the news cycle for more than 24 hours. Unfortunately, the Afghanistan Papers exposed what so many of us who have fought there have been saying for so long.
From the Afghanistan Papers, “If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction … 2,400 lives lost. Who will say this was in vain?” said Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, the former Afghan White House war czar during the Obama and Bush administrations. He blamed military deaths on bureaucracy and dysfunction in Congress, the Department of Defense and the State Department. “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” he added.
Despite the magnitude of these public revelations, the national security establishment will continue to use scare tactics to prevent the U.S. from leaving Afghanistan. They believe we are somehow safer if we send billions of taxpayer dollars to a nation that cannot account for where that money goes and what it is spent on. They believe that as long as a handful of Americans in uniform sacrifice their lives annually in a far-off nation, when most people don’t know the difference between an Afghan and Afghani, let alone what the military is attempting to accomplish there today, we somehow sleep safer in our beds every night.
Have you ever noticed how those who continue to advocate for endless wars are the ones who don’t actually have to go fight the actual fight? War in Washington looks like a powerpoint slide or a white paper. War in theater looks like real life friends getting blown up and having to wonder if you will ever see your family again every time you go out on a mission. Those who promote war as the solution to every global conflict around the world might consider the contrast.
The U.S. has been spending roughly $50 billion annually, totaling over $2 trillion since the war began in 2001. More than 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed and over 20,000 wounded. The reality on the ground is that the Taliban will take complete power when the U.S. leaves. It does not matter if we leave for good tomorrow or in another 20 years. That reality remains the same. Our mission in Afghanistan never was to free the nation from the Taliban, nor was it to win hearts and minds, or secure a better future for the Afghan people. That is a hard pill for so many to swallow, but it is also the truth.
I for one do not want to mourn another preventable American service member death on another Memorial Day because we stayed in a war where we accomplished the original mission years ago, yet refused to leave. The U.S. military is not a police force and its mission is not to nation-build. War is necessary at times. But starting a war comes with responsibilities: you should get in, accomplish the mission, and get out. Focusing on the withdrawal after 19 years is a duty, not an impulse.
Amber Smith is the former deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for outreach and an Afghanistan and Iraq combat veteran. Follow her on Twitter @AmberSmithUSA and OfficialAmberSmith.com