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2019 Caps Yet Another Decade Of Endless, Fruitless Foreign Wars
The Federalist ^ | December 31, 2019 | Bonnie Kristian

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 we’re 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 we’re 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 he’d 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 Trump’s intended drawdown, there are more American soldiers in Afghanistan than there were at Obama’s 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 Post’s recent publication of the “Afghanistan papers”—a trove of documents showing Washington guilty of years of willful deception of the American people about its Afghan intervention—even 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 Yemen’s civil war, a proxy fight with Iran that has produced the world’s 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 Arabia’s lust for political and religious dominance of its region. American security interests, to say nothing of Yemen’s 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 Washington’s interventionist posture, following in Obama’s 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.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: afghabistanwar; afghanistan; assadworshippers; foreignaffair; foreignintervention; foreignpolicy; iraq; iraqwar; isis; islamicstate; milintervention; militarypolicy; putinsbuttboys; russia; syria; terrorism; wot

1 posted on 12/31/2019 9:48:52 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Read Kipling.


2 posted on 12/31/2019 9:55:37 AM PST by Mogger
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To: Kaslin

Veruca Salt.


3 posted on 12/31/2019 9:56:07 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (BLACK LIVES MAGA)
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To: Kaslin

The following voted for war in Iraq.

Biden, Hillary and Kerry.

Trump called it a big, fat mistake.


4 posted on 12/31/2019 9:58:43 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with islamic terrorists - they want to die for allah and we want to kill them.)
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To: Jeff Chandler; Mogger

Wars are profit centers; BIG profit centers.
Just ask the Military-Industrial Complex.


5 posted on 12/31/2019 9:59:33 AM PST by carriage_hill (A society grows great when old men plant trees, in whose shade they know they will never sit.)
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To: Kaslin

Really? Our war against deadly ISIS, a real danger to the U.S. and U.S. citizens is fruitless?

Think again.


6 posted on 12/31/2019 10:01:34 AM PST by Jim W N (MAGA by restoring the Gospel of the Grace of Christ and our Free Constitutional Republic!)
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To: Kaslin

I’d rather see all this military effort, every penny of it, devoted to locking down our own borders.


7 posted on 12/31/2019 10:04:14 AM PST by samtheman (U.S. out of the U.N. --- U.N. out of the U.S.)
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To: Kaslin

The US hasn’t lost thousands of troops in the last three years.


8 posted on 12/31/2019 10:05:35 AM PST by aimhigh (THIS is His commandment . . . . 1 John 3:23)
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To: Kaslin
We haven't lost "thousands" of American lives in Afghanistan since Trump took office - it's been two or three dozen a year, I think. Anytime Trump proposes a cutback (e.g., Syria) , the MSM and the left slam him, and any cutbacks are done over the objections of military officials, leaving Trump vulnerable to second-guessing.

The good news is that - entering the fourth year of his term - Trump has not started any NEW wars or made any significant increases in existing deployments. That's a step in the right direction, despite the negative tone of this article.
9 posted on 12/31/2019 10:06:41 AM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: aimhigh

Beat me to it. The losses are so infrequent that each individual casualty is reported as an independent news item.


10 posted on 12/31/2019 10:07:37 AM PST by Steve_Seattle
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To: Kaslin

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.


11 posted on 12/31/2019 10:08:17 AM PST by Jim W N (MAGA by restoring the Gospel of the Grace of Christ and our Free Constitutional Republic!)
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To: Jim W N
ISIS and al-Qaeda have cells operating in the U.S. They also have had camps in various states for years yet the FBI has never shut these down. Three thousand unvetted illegals violate our Southern border each day with no push-back.

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.

12 posted on 12/31/2019 10:17:23 AM PST by 4Runner
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To: Kaslin

One benefit of these little foreign wars is that it provides hands-on training and experience to the military.


13 posted on 12/31/2019 10:35:48 AM PST by Mr Ramsbotham ("God is a spirit, and man His means of walking on the earth.")
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To: Kaslin
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.

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.

14 posted on 12/31/2019 10:39:56 AM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist mooselimb savages, today.)
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To: Kaslin

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.


15 posted on 12/31/2019 10:55:40 AM PST by Revolutionary ("Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition!")
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To: Kaslin

Pacifist balderdash
Get a life Bonnie....... in France


16 posted on 12/31/2019 10:57:49 AM PST by bert ( (KE. NP. N.C. +12) Progressives are existential American enemies)
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