Our bellicose president wants to continue a 16-year quagmire in Afghanistan

Trump inherited the Afghan conflict but we needn't renew it to feed his ego. Defund this hangover of a war

Published June 11, 2017 9:30AM (EDT)

 (AP/Getty/Photo montage by Salon)
(AP/Getty/Photo montage by Salon)

Donald Trump missed the opportunity to become a General Patton-style military commander and glorious war hero back in the Vietnam era. He surely would have been the greatest ever in history!

But he says, alas, some unspecified foot problem (or something or other) kept him from the privilege of actually having the chance to go fight in that war. Bad luck, I'm sure. But now that the Donald is  the commander in chief, his inner warrior has been given a second chance to bloom, and this time he's fully enlisted. In recent weeks, President Trump has escalated a running war of words against Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, bombed the European leaders of NATO with explosive charges that they're unworthy of his support, launched a fierce new barrage of tough rhetoric in his extralegal offensive to ban all travel to the U.S. by anyone from six Muslim nations, and opened an entirely new battlefront by attacking the mayor of London with one of his Twitter missiles.

In last year's presidential campaign, Trump declared with typical modesty, "There's nobody bigger or better at the military than I am." Well, I'm certainly no expert on war, but if a president is going to pick a mess of foreign fights, wouldn't it be better strategically speaking to pick on actual enemies rather than on America's allies? After all, there might come a time when we need friends to stand with us.

In a twist of historic irony, it looks like Trump and his military team might need those European allies sooner than they figured. Trump's national security chief and the Pentagon are pushing a new strategy for America's long and horribly messy war — but it depends on our NATO allies sending some of their troops into the fight. Oops, how awkward for the impetuous tweeter in chief.

President Trump might have dodged military service in his youth, but he certainly is bellicose, likes to issue commands and is constantly firing off militant tweets at anyone he perceives to be an enemy.

Now he and his White House full of military commanders are pondering the launch of a real shooting war. Actually, he would be attempting to achieve battlefield glory by picking up and extending what at first was George Bush's war, then Barack Obama's war. The place is Afghanistan, and the strategy is to shove more American soldiers (none of whom will be named Trump) into that brutish, interminable hellhole.

Yes, that mess is still boiling, despite President Barack Obama's pledge to end U.S. involvement by 2012. After 16 years, after more than 2,000 Americans have been killed and 20,000 others maimed, after more than $800 billion has been shoveled into it, 8,400 of our troops are still there, the killing continues and we taxpayers keep pumping billions of dollars into the insanity. For all of that, the Taliban forces we've been trying to defeat are stronger than ever, al-Qaida and the Islamic State have gained strength and the Afghan government we're supporting is corrupt, inept and despised.

Nonetheless, Trump is violating a basic rule of civilian control of the military: Never ask the generals if they need more resources. This president has surrounded himself with generals and surrendered crucial decision-making authority to them. What can a "mini-surge" of 5,000 more soldiers do besides assure more U.S. casualties? We weren't able to win in Afghanistan when 100,000 of our troops were there, so what do we "win" by this so-called strategy?

Rep. Walter Jones, a Republican of North Carolina, has introduced a nonpartisan bill to defund Trump's war in Afghanistan. It is co-sponsored by members of both parties. It will be up to House Speaker Paul Ryan to bring up the bill for a vote. If Trump can't tell us why his new strategy will work, we should tell him no. Call Speaker Ryan and tell him to bring up House of Representatives 1666 for a vote. And call your representatives and tell them to defund Trump's war in Afghanistan.

By Jim Hightower

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Editor's Picks H.r. 1666 Nato President Donald Trump Rep. Walter Jones War In Afghanistan