In the space of eight days, the Taliban went from controlling 90% of Afghanistan, including almost all its towns and cities, to holding almost none but when the religious fanatics repeatedly sought to surrender, the Bush administration turned them down in a series of arrogant blunders described in detail by Anand Gopal’s book, “No Good Men Among the Living.”
Now, after promising to withdraw from America’s longest war, President Donald Trump is embracing a policy nearly identical to that of former President Barack Obama, a plan crafted by military leaders who have requested and received a virtual blank check from taxpayers.
“Our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check,” said Trump, echoing Obama, who in 2009 told the U.S. Military Academy’s Corps of Cadets at West Point: “The days of providing a blank check are over.”
“The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden. The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results.”
Despite 16 years of “blood and treasure” spent in Afghanistan, the United States has no end in sight for the longest war in American history.
“I share the American people’s frustration,” Trump said. “I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money, and most importantly lives, trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations.”
U.S. defense spending is almost three times as large as that of the United States’ closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures—with another third coming from U.S. allies and partners.
Threats may come from five sources: great powers (such as China and Russia), extremist non-state actors (such as al Qaeda; the Islamic State, or ISIS; and the Taliban), rogue states (such as Iran and North Korea), pandemics and environmental turbulence, and developments in advanced technology that could increase U.S. vulnerabilities (especially those related to cyberspace, space, and weapons of mass destruction).
Despite being one of the poorest nations in the world, Afghanistan, a country nearly the size of Texas, has mineral resources valued at nearly $1 trillion, that scientists say were deposited by the violent collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia.
As a young veteran who returned from Vietnam, John Kerry challenged lawmakers with his April 22, 1971 testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Vietnam: How do you ask a man to be the last man die for a mistake?
Trump and his Pentagon masters have answered the question. You ask people to die for a mistake blindly and without conscience or concern.
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