After more than seventeen years of war in Afghanistan, most Americans have simply accepted the perpetual war for perpetual peace that the war has become. U.S. soldiers are still dying in Afghanistan, but no one seems to notice—expect perhaps the parents, wife, and three children of Sergeant Major James G. Sartor, who was killed earlier this month in Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado. Sartor“joined the Army in 2001 as an infantryman and had deployed numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan.” He “had received more than two dozen awards and decorations and will posthumously receive a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.”
It seems that conservatives are always making excuses for the imperialistic, militaristic, reckless, belligerent, and meddling U.S. foreign policy that keeps American soldiers in Afghanistan and countless other places around the world.
A case in point is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who “studies US foreign policy and defense strategy,” and is also “the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).”
Says Hal Brands:
The Democratic Party’s progressive presidential candidates want to end the “forever war” — America’s two-decade struggle against jihadist extremism. The trouble is that they don’t know how.
It is easy enough for the progressives to argue that the US should pull back from the greater Middle East and demilitarize its counterterrorism strategy. Unfortunately, they have less to say about how the US can do so responsibly.
Progressives have not answered the tough question about how America can safely pull back from the war on terror.
The United States can’t just leave Afghanistan because “al-Qaeda and ISIS are still active there, and the US intelligence community has reportedly warned that a complete US withdrawal could lead to a major terrorist attack on American soil within two years.”
The United States can’t just cut off support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen because “there is no guarantee that simply terminating that support will make a horrific situation better rather than worse.”
The United States can’t just leave Iraq and Syria. It needs “to keep the American boot on Islamic State’s back and prevent a replay of what happened in 2013-14, when a nearly-defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq morphed into the ISIS juggernaut that rolled across a large swath of the Middle East.”
So, how you end the war in Afghanistan? How do you end the global war on terror? How do you end U.S. involvement in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Africa? How do you pull back from the greater Middle East? How do you remove the U.S. troops out of Italy, Germany, and Japan that have been there since World War II ended in 1945? How do you close the hundreds of U.S. military bases that are all over the world? How do you remove the U.S. troops from South Korea that have been there since the end of the Korean War? How do you bring home the hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops that are outside the borders and territorial waters of the United States?
You just do it.
You recognize that intervening in other countries, bombing other countries, occupying other countries, building bases in other countries, and policing the world was a terrible mistake and you just get out.
Sure, bad things might happen in some countries if U.S. forces leave. The network of brothels around the world that services U.S. troops might even shut down. But the bad things that might happen pale in comparison to the bad things that have happened because of U.S. involvement.
U.S. troops in foreign countries are not defending the country; fighting for our freedoms; keeping Americans safe from terrorists; supporting and defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic; protecting Americans from credible threats; serving the country; or fighting “over there” so we don’t have to fight “over here.”
All U.S. military personnel stationed overseas should be told to pack up their things and come home. All U.S. Navy ships should sail home. All U.S. Air Force planes should fly home. All foreign U.S. military bases should be closed. All the DOD golf courses in Japan should be turned over to the Japanese.
But how can such a mammoth task can be undertaken? You just do it. Yes, you do it orderly and safely, but you just do it. You start putting U.S. troops on planes and ships and you bring them home. That’s how you do it.
And just what should these U.S. troops do once they come home?
How about secure American borders, patrol American coasts, guard American shores, watch over American skies, and stand ready to defend the America in the event of a real threat. Isn’t that the real purpose of the U.S. military? If so, then why do conservatives who clamor for a “strong national defense” object to this?