Is there someone who doesn’t want peace? What a crazy notion.
We all want peace, but are we as willing to pay the price of peace as we are to pay the price of war?
9/11 is a good time to consider what President Trump seems to want — a total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which the media delights in calling “America’s longest war,” which may not be technically true. It implicitly suggests that because it is the “longest,” it is too long. Is it? It is a job we started. Dare we leave it unfinished?
It might not be technically true that it is the longest because the Korean War stopped with an armistice, basically a cease fire. That was in July of 1953, but a state of war still exists. That is more than 60 years — and we still have troops along the DMZ there as we do in Japan and Germany, more than 70 years after the end of World War II.
So why are we still in Korea, Europe and elsewhere?
Our troops are a prophylactic, to prevent some enemy who is probing for a weak spot to be able to easily find one.
Millions for defense, but not a cent for tribute, an early U.S. ambassador supposedly said.
What Winston Churchill did say was, “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”
In other words, the best offense is a good defense.
But how we got into Afghanistan was offense.
In the briefest possible telling of the story, we were attacked 18 years ago on 9/11 by al-Qaeda, a fundamentalist Islamic group operating out of Afghanistan (and elsewhere). Afghanistan was then under the control of the Taliban, another nutbag Islamist group that refused to cooperate with the U.S. in corraling the murderers.
Almost 3,000 Americans died that day, and an estimated $10 billion of damage was caused by hijacked civilian airliners turned into guided missiles.
When the Taliban sided with al-Qaeda, the U.S. invaded and toppled the Taliban, known for oppressing women and denying every day pleasures of life, such as music, to those under its control.
We have been fighting in Afghanistan ever since.
We have about 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan now, and in August 2017, Trump warned against a “hasty withdrawal.”
In recent weeks, we learned Trump was involved in secret talks with the Taliban — without the Afghan government — to withdraw all U.S. forces after a promise from the Taliban that it would not allow terrorists to use Afghanistan as a base.
Trump called off what might have been a meeting with the Taliban this week at Camp David when a Taliban terror attack killed a U.S. soldier.
That was the reason Trump gave for backing away, but it’s likely he knew the talks were unpopular. Hugely. Even GOP lawmakers showed unusual spine by challenging their president.
Here is the bottom line as I see it: You can’t trust the Taliban any more than North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, even though Trump hasn’t begun french kissing the Taliban… yet.
The moment U.S. forces leave, the Taliban, which controls the majority of Afghanistan, will go on a tear and wipe out the Afghan army, which seems unable and unwilling to protect the nation.
Before too long, the terrorists will return, as will attacks, and we will be forced to return to Afghanistan, without even a foundation to start from.
The situation on the ground now is bad.
Pulling out all U.S. military, just to “end the war,” will make it worse.
Does that mean we must leave 10,000 or so troops there forever?
Possibly. That’s what we’ve done in Korea, Germany, Japan and elsewhere and they have maintained the peace.
One difference is casualties we have sustained in Afghanistan. That is true, that is tragic, and loss of life happens when you are in the military and our volunteer soldiers understand the consequences of enlisting.
We can’t afford peace at any price.
If need be, we must remain in Afghanistan until it really is our longest war.