This statement was published on August 22, 2017 on the Ludwig von Mises Institute website. It is reprinted here pursuant to the Creative Commons license associated therewith (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).
Like me, many of you watched President Trump’s train wreck of a speech on Afghanistan earlier tonight . It’s nearly midnight and I am still reeling.
I guess it was too much to ask to hear him admit the obvious and draw the obvious conclusions: After 16 years – the longest war in US history – no one even remembers what we are fighting for in Afghanistan. The war is over. Not another American (or innocent Afghan) life for one of the most convoluted and idiotic wars in history! Trump of 2012 and 2013 said just that. Candidate Trump said just that. Then tonight he told us that once you sit in that chair in the Oval Office you see things differently.
What does that mean? Once elected you betray your promises so as to please the deep state? Here’s the truth that neither President Trump nor his newfound neocon coterie can deny:
1) A gang of radical Saudis attacked the US on 9/11. Their leader, Osama bin Laden, was a CIA favorite when he was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. He clearly listed his grievances after he fell out with his CIA sponsors: US sanctions in Iraq were killing innocents; US policy grossly favored the Israelis in the conflict with Palestinians; and US troops in his Saudi holy land were unacceptable.
2) Osama’s radicals roamed from country to country until they were able to briefly settle in chaotic late 1990s Afghanistan for a time. They plotted the attack on the US from Florida, Germany, and elsewhere. They allegedly had a training camp in Afghanistan. We know from the once-secret 28 pages of the Congressional Intelligence Committee report on 9/11 that they had Saudi state sponsorship.
3) Bin Laden’s group of Saudis attacked the US on 9/11. Washington’s neocons attacked Afghanistan and then Iraq in retaliation, neither of which had much to do with bin Laden or 9/11. Certainly not when compared to the complicity of the Saudi government at the highest levels.
4) Sixteen years – and trillions of dollars and thousands of US military lives – later no one knows what the goals are in Afghanistan. Not even Trump, which is why he said tonight that he would no longer discuss our objectives in Afghanistan but instead would just concentrate on “killing terrorists.”
Gen. Mike Flynn had it right in 2015 when he said that the US drone program was creating more terrorists than it was killing. Trump’s foolish escalation will do the same. It will fail because it cannot do otherwise. It will only create more terrorists to justify more US intervention. And so on until our financial collapse. The US government cannot kill its way to peace in Afghanistan. Or anywhere else.
Daniel McAdams is the Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.