Skip to comments.2019 Caps Yet Another Decade Of Endless, Fruitless Foreign Wars
Posted on 12/31/2019 9:48:52 AM PST by Kaslin
Three years gone, thousands of lives lost, tens of billions in debt-funded spending, and were right back where we started, with a permanent entanglement in the longest war in U.S. history.
President Trump plans to pull about 4,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan early in 2020, officials in his administration reported in mid-December, a partial withdrawal that would put American force levels in our longest war exactly where they were when Trump entered office. Three years gone, thousands of American and Afghan lives lost, tens of billions in debt-funded spending, and were right back where we started, with an apparently permanent entanglement in the longest war in U.S. history.
That futility and strategic failure has been a defining feature of the foreign policy of the 2010s. A decade ago, we were nine years into the War in Afghanistan and seven years on in Iraq. Both wars were increasingly unpopular: Public opinion had turned against the invasion of Iraq several years prior, and although support for the initial invasion of Afghanistan remained a little longer in the black, perspectives on the war in general were also pessimistic.
President Obama was just two years into his first term, following a campaign in which hed promised to repudiate the foreign policy mistakes of his predecessor. Instead he built on them, and, after a similarly critical candidacy, President Trump has done the same. Both presidents insisted on their opposition to endless wars, but both escalated U.S. military intervention more often than they restrained it.
The war in Afghanistan, the rotting heart of U.S. foreign policy, is exemplary here, but not unique. The last decade saw Obama reject the small-footprint approach of the Bush administration in favor of a surge, deploying as many as 100,000 Americans at once in the first half of the decade. Although he announced an end to U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan at the close of 2014, it is impossible to say in retrospect that Obama ended this conflict in any ordinary sense of the word.
Five years later, ahead of Trumps intended drawdown, there are more American soldiers in Afghanistan than there were at Obamas point of victory. Negotiations with the Taliban, in which the United States has no real leverage or need to participate, are still floundering, moving us no closer to exit.
Even after The Washington Posts recent publication of the Afghanistan papersa trove of documents showing Washington guilty of years of willful deception of the American people about its Afghan interventioneven now, there is no apparent appetite in Congress or the White House for actually ending this worse-than-useless war.
Much the same can be said of Iraq. Where once Trump wondered why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not impeach former President George W. Bush for the war, for [getting] us into the war with lies, he now continues that very fight. U.S. troop levels in Iraq declined precipitously at the beginning of the 2010s, but have inched back up since and are currently estimated around 6,000, a larger number than were deployed there for much of the decade.
The second round of the Iraq war, occasioned by the rise of the Islamic State, ended several years ago. Baghdad declared victory over the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2017, and the United States killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi this fall. So why is the war still going? What is its aim? What would be considered victory? Will U.S. troops ever come home? These are questions policymakers are unwilling to answer, and this war, too, rages on indefinitely.
Elsewhere in the greater Middle East, these 10 years have likewise been a decade of escalation. Obama meddled in Libya, helping to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi and plunge the North African nation into chaos from which it has yet to recover. Sold as humanitarian intervention, the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervention is now thought to have prolonged the initial phase of the conflict and increased its civilian death toll.
Meanwhile, recklessly erratic U.S. meddling in Syria has likely lengthened the Syrian civil war, to say nothing of putting American troops at risk of unwanted conflict with hostile powers operating in close quarters, most notably Russia and Iran.
The Obama and Trump administrations have each supported the Saudi coalition intervention in Yemens civil war, a proxy fight with Iran that has produced the worlds worse humanitarian crisis. Trump persisted in backing Riyadh in its commission of war crimes despite overwhelming public disapproval and a bipartisan congressional vote against continuing the intervention.
While ordinary Yemenis face famine and medicine shortages, epidemic cholera, and careless coalition strikes on civilian targets, U.S. forces are facilitating Saudi Arabias lust for political and religious dominance of its region. American security interests, to say nothing of Yemens suffering, are apparently irrelevant.
The tail end of this decade has seen Trump growing the number of U.S. troops to the Middle East and Africa, with a fresh 14,000 sent to the Gulf region this fall alone. A total of around 200,000 American soldiers are stationed worldwide as 2019 comes to a close, fewer than in 2010 but pretty average for the post-Cold War era.
We more and more are not wanting to be the policemen of the world, Trump said last year, but he has taken no meaningful steps to change Washingtons interventionist posture, following in Obamas footsteps of castigating the very foreign policy he pursues.
Thus Washington ends this decade with a global police force 200,000 strong; trillions in war debt and another bloated Pentagon budget; and half a dozen wars, depending on how you count them, to say nothing of rising tensions with Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia. Our foreign policy of the last 10 years was strategically unmoored, plus frequently counterproductive and inhumane. May the next decade of foreign policy see an overdue pivot to restraint and peace.
The following voted for war in Iraq.
Biden, Hillary and Kerry.
Trump called it a big, fat mistake.
Wars are profit centers; BIG profit centers.
Just ask the Military-Industrial Complex.
Really? Our war against deadly ISIS, a real danger to the U.S. and U.S. citizens is fruitless?
I’d rather see all this military effort, every penny of it, devoted to locking down our own borders.
The US hasn’t lost thousands of troops in the last three years.
Beat me to it. The losses are so infrequent that each individual casualty is reported as an independent news item.
Bonnie Kristian is confused.
Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan was going after the perpetrator of 9-11. Bush then went wobbly and the rest was really stupid.
Obama never intended for America to win any war since he hates America.
Trump has essentially taken ISIS out. His efforts are to WIN QUICKLY. His efforts are not “endless”.
Thanks Bonnie, but we’ll continue to do what’s best for America’s and American’s best interests.
I want the military operating on U.S. soil and posse comitatus be damned. We have a clear and present existentialist danger. I don't need them ten thousand miles away in some cat litter box which pretends it's a country.
One benefit of these little foreign wars is that it provides hands-on training and experience to the military.
Trump kicked the hell out of ISIS in record time and has no interest in converting goat herders into democratic countries.
This whole screed is a bunch of criticisms with no solutions. If one bitches, then at least offer some solutions.
From 2017-2019, approximately 1 death per month in Afghanistan and 1 per month in Iraq. (Statista)
A total of 92. Maybe 1 more in Dec.
Get a life Bonnie....... in France
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