The U.S. Senate cannot agree on anything. They are so mired in partisan gridlock, a resolution declaring the sky to be officially the color blue would fail along party lines. But there is one thing and one thing only they agree on: 17 years of our troops dying in Afghanistan isn’t long enough.
By a 68-23 margin, the Senate decided we haven’t spilled enough blood, broken enough soldiers (mentally and physically), or spent enough money. All for a now-aimless conflict in a part of the world Americans don’t even care about.
What began as an attempt to hunt down Osama bin Laden has now become a generational conflict where sons are patrolling the same areas as their fathers did. This no longer a war. This has become a hopeless mission to tame a part of the world that has never been and will never be tamed.
Afghanistan is a rugged, tribal nation with different interests than ours. As with so many parts of the world, the strong will rule over the weak there, and there is precious little America can do about that. That is why we’re now resigned to negotiating a peace deal with the very Taliban we’ve been fighting for 17 years.
American Soldiers Deserve Better than This
Our troops are the best of us, and they deserve better. They sign up to serve and defend this nation, and their lives should be sold dearly. Go take a long walk through your nearest Veterans Affairs hospital. It is no longer a place full of old men. It is now full of broken, injured, and sick young men walking the halls.
For the politicians banging the war drums, casualties are “an unfortunate reality of war.” For the young man learning how to walk with prosthetic legs or learning to read Braille, it’s a bit more real than that.
It is not only the physical toll. We are mentally breaking our guys. These endless conflicts are heavily shouldered by our special forces. Chief Edward Gallagher is being charged with killing an ISIS teen and posing for pictures with his dead body.
I won’t speak to what happened there, as I don’t know the truth and neither do you. But I do know this: Our special forces guys are now deployed for 250-plus days a year. You immerse a man in endless combat for a decade, and that’s going to have an effect.
We cannot continue to ask this of our best troops or their families, who are so often forgotten in all this. When you call for deploying troops, understand that you’re telling a man to kiss his wife and children goodbye for maybe the last time.
This Is an Un-American Foreign Policy
Our current foreign policy of involvement all over the globe is not the policy of our Founding Fathers. Nor has it been the foreign policy of this nation for the majority of our existence. George Washington famously wrote in his farewell address:
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible…Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remote relation…Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel. Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?
Washington knew the dangerous quagmire of too much foreign involvement. And he knew too much of it would be the enemy of the people’s liberty. As did James Madison, who wrote:
In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
Here’s my personal favorite, John Quincy Adams, who wisely warned about constantly seeking out a foreign boogieman:
America…has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart…But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own…She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.
This is a better foreign policy, and the men who built this nation knew it. Americans themselves knew it. Even during World War II, as war raged across the globe, Americans opposed getting involved in the conflict by 95 percent until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Inevitably, this article will meet cries of, “We have to stop them over there before they come here!” Or, my personal favorite, “America must lead!”
First of all, scores of Americans have died on American soil from Islamic terror attacks since 9/11. So that “stop them there” argument has no facts to back it up.
Secondly, “America must lead!” is quite a statement. Maybe there’s even some legitimacy to it. But “America” is not very specific. What you’re really saying is, “Someone else has to go immerse himself in the mud and blood so I can feel better about myself.”
Let us stop this. Let us revert back to an originalist foreign policy that lets America worry about America and Americans.
That’s not isolationism, as America must remain ever vigilant and ready to take on the evils of this world should they threaten her interests. Instead, it’s a foreign policy that focuses on neutrality, trade, and places high value on the life of the American soldier. Let us finally send neoconservative interventionalism to the death it wishes upon our troops.