Is Trump Serious About Ending War?

The United States is embroiled in multiple military excursions across the Middle East and recently President Donald Trump has expressed his desire that two of those excursions be wound down. Of course, this is a reference to Trump’s suggestion that the United States get out of Afghanistan and end our limited military operations in Syria. These utterances were made a few weeks ago and there has been no action, so the question become, is President Trump serious about winding those two operations down?

Beginning with Afghanistan, it is important to do a very quick rehash of what this war is about. It was the response by the George W. Bush administration for the al Qa’ida inspired attacks on September 11, 2001. That really does not need to be covered. What is more pressing is that just a decade ago (yeah it doesn’t feel that long to me either) this war was called the “good war” by then presidential candidate, Senator Barrack Obama. Obama’s campaign positioned itself to end the operations in Iraq and focus on Afghanistan, where the real battle was since that is where 9/11 was planned (it wasn’t, that was Kuala Lumpur). This resulted in an additional 33,000 military personnel being shipped to Afghanistan to add to the numbers that were already there. By 2012, the Afghan Surge was ended and those troops were brought home. Did it accomplish anything?

That depends on when the evidence is examined. At certain points in time, one might point to the decrease in violence in the souther provinces. However, that violence ticked up when the surge ended. At the political level, it created a huge backlash from the then presidency of Hamid Karzai. However, that was made pointless when the United States staged a political coup to oust him because of his opposition to such a strategy (Karzai would eventually be pushed out in 2014 for current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani). And then there were those “green-on-blue” attacks where Afghanistan trainees would “frag” their U.S. trainers. The list could go on, but the point here is that there was a tremendous price to pay for little to no gain in the overall situation.

Today, the Taliban–those terrorist harboring thugs whose destruction was the initial goal way back in 2001–is negotiating with the United States in Moscow, and the two main points to these talks have been affirmed by the parties. First, the Taliban will no allow terrorist groups like al Qa’ida to have safe harbor in Afghanistan. Second, all of the troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Al Qa’ida still exists, though it is must less effective as a functioning organization like it was in 2001. And the Taliban is going to regain control of the government. So after 17 years of fighting and no telling how many thousands of deaths for all parties, the situation is likely to end in the same position as it would have had President Bush taken the Taliban’s offer to allow them to oust Osama bin Laden to another country instead of handing him directly to the United States.

Now to Syria. This is a much more difficult nut to crack because we really have no reason to be there aside from just stirring the multiple factions involved in that little war into killing each other. Again, some background. Syria began in Iraq when the Islamic State went from Junior Varsity to All-Pro by taking out a substantial portion of Iraq, at one point getting to roughly 20 miles from Baghdad itself. Then after being pushed out of the largest northern Iraqi city, Mosul, the Islamic State began to fall back into Syria and lose its grip on the ground it had gained in Iraq. In Syria, the United States was stuck because there was no legal authority for any U.S. military operations to occur. But that lasted only for a short while.

After the notion of providing support to the Syrian “rebels” was swatted down by Congress (thankfully) in 2012/2013, the then Obama administration decided they were going to use the weapons collected after the other little war in Libya and ship them to the “rebels” in Syria. Turns out, those “rebels” were really terrorist organizations and when they got wind of those weapons shipments ceasing, the torched the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens in the process. This operation, to varying degrees continued up until the Trump administration took over and ended it in 2017. What is the situation now?

As of today, Syria is still under the ravages of war. However, the Islamic State does not have the strength it did just a couple of years ago. Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is still in power, the Russians are still there providing Assad forces with air cover (during the Obama administration U.S. and Russian forces would coordinate their airstrikes so as to avoid possible international incidents), and the Kurds seem to be everyone’s new sympathetic entity with which sentiment for more war can be garnered from the U.S. population. A complete cessation of U.S. military operations in Syria would not worsen the situation there by any means, but giving what the foreign policy establishment in Washington D.C. wants could be a serious problem for that region–as if that region does not have enough problems.

So the question remains: Is Trump serious about ending U.S. involvement in these two war torn countries? Frankly, it appears that Trump is serious about this but he has to fight the national security apparatus of the permanent state comprised of the Intelligence Community and the Pentagon. Trump is the commander-in-chief. He could snap his fingers and, if he wanted to remove those forces, things would have to start moving tomorrow. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy will not operate that way for Trump. It is dragging its feet, waiting, praying, that he will be gone come January 2021 and someone from the Republicrats will assume the Oval Office and allow them to continue senseless wars.

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66 thoughts on “Is Trump Serious About Ending War?”

  1. MJBubba:
    But what we have actually been doing in Afghanistan is only a little bit “nation-building.”

    The whole thing is nation-building.

    What enemy are we there to defeat?  “Terrorism” is not an enemy.  We didn’t go to war in the 1940s against the combined arms doctrine.  We are not fighting the Taliban — we are negotiating with them.  We are *ceding* the battleground, the country, the population, and the whole question of whether the US can do a damned thing anymore — to them.  They win, and no amount of foot-dragging is going to improve that score.  It will only make it worse.

    There was a time when it could have worked (regardless of whether it was a good idea, or our business proper, but I was in for a pound).  That time has gone and it ain’t coming back.

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  2. MJBubba:

    Haakon Dahl:
    We should stop playing with ourselves in Afghanistan, and brace for what will come.  This country does not have what it takes to engage in The Long War in any other than a defensive crouch.

    Keep fighting.

    It is not just America that will lose.   If America falls, then western civilization goes with it, and a very black dark age ensues.

    The only thing to continue fighting over there is reality.  We have already lost.  Counterinsurgency and the Long War require a set of convictions and a reputation; neither of which we possess any more.

    It’s not as though we were beaten by anybody outside the US — as usual.  Our fickle electorate and wicked commiecrat party got what they wanted.  Obama was hired by the American people not once but twice to throw away our gains, converting them to losses, converting sacrifice to waste, and converting bravery to foolishness.  Obama was a faithful servant of a faithless population.

    We will get what’s coming good and hard, and continuing down this path is just another example of “fighting the last war”.  We are in a new war now, and we cannot get back to the one we wanted to fight, or should have fought, or are prepared to fight.  Time’s up.

    “Hey, let’s go over to Afghanistan and provide some stability so that them uh.. um…”  Nothing.  That’s what .  Nothing.

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  3. Damocles:

    MJBubba:
    Keep fighting.

    For how much longer? 10 years? 20? 50?

    FWIW, my grown children do not remember a time when we haven’t been “at war” in Afghanistan.

    For as long as it takes.   Islam has been at war with the west since 632 AD.

    Why should our generation expect better than our predecessors?   Just because there was a respite in this war because of western industrialized warfighting, you cannot expect the respite to last forever.   Islam has always been at war, since the beginning of Islam.   War is baked into the Islamic cake.

    Better to fight them there.

    If we leave them to their own devices, it won’t be long until they have overtaken Europe, and then fight us with the resources of Europe.

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  4. One of the greatest fallacies of the American mind when it comes to foreign policy is the idea that other countries want to be like the United States or any other Western Democracy. Whether the objective of democratizing Afghanistan was a stated objective from the outset or not is inconsequential here. The real question is now and should have been back then, can it be done. During my Masters program in International Affairs, I took a class on nation building and we went through several case studies that were successful and that were failures. The successful case studies–most notably Germany and Japan–had a single commonality between them: the populations there had an extensive exposure to Western Culture and Western political institutions with some experience of operating them on their own. I don’t think anyone would disagree that Germany certainly had a pretty long history of developing their own form of democracy, particularly since the modern welfare state is a creation of Bismark. And Japan had experience with what could be equated to a parliamentary monarch dating back to the 1850s. (BEFORE ANY NITPICKERS OUT THERE WANT TO JUMP ON THIS, I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS A ONE-FOR-ONE COMPARISON WITH THE UK. PLEASE, CALM DOWN AND HOLSTER YOUR “AH HA!!”. THANK YOU.)

    What we are facing in the Middle East is a culture that not only does not want to be exposed to Western Culture and Western Democracy, but that actively opposes it. In fact to the extent that you might be able to point out where Western Democracy has been adopted, I can easily demonstrate for you that it is a type of democracy that has had a Muslim adjustment. I frankly wish we would have allowed for Egypt to play out and see what happened to the Muslim Brotherhood as time passed. I have my suspicions, but we will never know. We do know that in Afghanistan and in Iraq, both “Western style democracies” adopted Constitutions that put Islam front and center, which is at its base antithetical to Western democracy.

    We are back to where we began this conversation: how do you measure success in nation building? There isn’t a checklist you can go down and complete and then sit back and say “okay, we did it.” The only way Afghanistan remains in any shape manner or form in its current state is if the United States stays there indefinitely. So you have fun trying to convince people to support that. Good luck convincing enough future generations to volunteer for the military knowing that they are going to be stationed somewhere that they have zero memory of why we are there to begin with. This isn’t Germany or Japan a decade after WWII. This isn’t a place that has been subdued by force into a peaceful situation. Afghanistan will continue to be a place where U.S. military personnel are constantly under a state of threat because the people there do not want what we are selling.

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  5. Haakon Dahl:

    MJBubba:
    But what we have actually been doing in Afghanistan is only a little bit “nation-building.”

    The whole thing is nation-building.

    What enemy are we there to defeat?  “Terrorism” is not an enemy.  We didn’t go to war in the 1940s against the combined arms doctrine.  We are not fighting the Taliban — we are negotiating with them.  We are *ceding* the battleground, the country, the population, and the whole question of whether the US can do a damned thing anymore — to them.  They win, and no amount of foot-dragging is going to improve that score.  It will only make it worse.

    There was a time when it could have worked (regardless of whether it was a good idea, or our business proper, but I was in for a pound).  That time has gone and it ain’t coming back.

    I think we could leave Afghanistan and declare a victory. Look, bin Laden is dead, the al Qa’ida that we knew in 2001 – 2005 is gone and moved on, and we have the Taliban, at least verbally, denouncing terrorist organizations. I think that is enough to say we met our objectives and now we are going home. Frankly, I don’t know what more anyone would want.

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  6. Robert A. McReynolds:
    I think we could leave Afghanistan and declare a victory. Look, bin Laden is dead, the al Qa’ida that we knew in 2001 – 2005 is gone and moved on, and we have the Taliban, at least verbally, denouncing terrorist organizations. I think that is enough to say we met our objectives and now we are going home. Frankly, I don’t know what more anyone would want.

    I’d slightly alter one of my favorite Reaganisms here: Don’t trust, but verify.

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  7. MJBubba:

    Haakon Dahl:
    We should stop playing with ourselves in Afghanistan, and brace for what will come.  This country does not have what it takes to engage in The Long War in any other than a defensive crouch.

    Keep fighting.

    It is not just America that will lose.   If America falls, then western civilization goes with it, and a very black dark age ensues.

    This is silly!! America will NOT fall if we pull out of Afghanistan. What could you possibly point to that would lead anyone to agree with this statement?

    In fact, let me list off a few areas where America “has fallen” that many people–I suspect many on this website–don’t really give a damn about.

    1) TSA: You are now a suspect subject to a search by the Federal government for simply holding a plane ticket.

    2) Bulk collection of electronic communications: You are now a subject of intelligence gathering by virtue of holding a cellular phone and having an email address. Again, a violation of your 4th Amendment. (that is the amendment Conservatives really don’t give a damn about anymore because it also helps “urban criminals” stall the criminal justice system.)

    3) A militarized police force: Yes, I love this one. Nothing says liberty like a police unit in full battle rattle because they view the citizenry of the United States as a constant threat and adversary.

    4) The sharing of intelligence unrelated to terrorism with local law enforcement. Secret police, gastapo tactics. Just ask President Trump or even Carter Paige.

    5) Multiple NDAAs that allow the federal government to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens for suspicion of terrorist connections. A sly move by Congress to do away with habeas corpus.

    All of these are a direct result of fighting “terrorism.” And are all great examples of how “America has fallen.” Western Civilization died out decades ago when half of its beneficiaries decided to destroy it in the name of “equality” at the expense of liberty.

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  8. EThompson:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    I think we could leave Afghanistan and declare a victory. Look, bin Laden is dead, the al Qa’ida that we knew in 2001 – 2005 is gone and moved on, and we have the Taliban, at least verbally, denouncing terrorist organizations. I think that is enough to say we met our objectives and now we are going home. Frankly, I don’t know what more anyone would want.

    I’d slightly alter one of my favorite Reaganisms here: Don’t trust, but verify.

    Sure, don’t trust them. I don’t necessarily trust them either given how Muslims like to define “terrorism.” (See the Palestinians) But at some point this has to end. Or not. Hey I can see the silver lining here. You want to continue throwing treasure and the youth of America down this crap hole, go ahead. It might hasten the break up of the United States and then maybe we can find some damned peace somewhere.

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  9. Robert A. McReynolds:
    You want to continue throwing treasure and the youth of America down this crap hole, go ahead. It might hasten the break up of the United States and then maybe we can find some damned peace somewhere.

    I certainly hope you were using the term “you” in a general sense; if not you’ve put words in my word. I’m only suggesting we keep an eye open and force other NATO allies to contribute. I think we’ve got NATO and Europe by the crosshairs and they know it.

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  10. EThompson:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    You want to continue throwing treasure and the youth of America down this crap hole, go ahead. It might hasten the break up of the United States and then maybe we can find some damned peace somewhere.

    I certainly hope you were using the term “you” in a general sense; if not you’ve put words in my word. I’m only suggesting we keep an eye open and force other NATO allies to contribute. I think we’ve got NATO and Europe by the crosshairs and they know it.

    Yeah, sorry, I wasn’t aiming “you” at you.

    No look, encouraging NATO to get more involved with their own security is perfectly fine. Look, I know people here want to equate what I am saying about perpetual war with “fortress America” and being completely isolated with no engagement at all with the rest of the world. I get it. That is the lazy Conservatives method of arguing with libertarian types when it comes to foreign policy. I am not an “isolationist,” whatever that term mean. I simply want a few things when it comes to foreign policy of the United States. 1) If you want to have your (general sense here) stupid little wars all over the place, then go to Congress each and every time you plead for one. 2) When asking for Congressional approval, tell them up front that there will be an indefinite occupation of the country we are invading. And 3) make public all U.S. entities that stand to profit from this or that project that will benefit from perpetual U.S. security forces.

    In terms of foreign engagement, I am all for that too. The more other countries start to take care of their own neighborhoods the sooner the US can get out of the empire business. In fact, if any Conservative was serious about the direction of Europe regarding socialism, then removing US no questions asked commitment of providing Europe security would be the quickest way to do it. The reason why Europe has been able to build such an oppressive socialist system there is because they don’t have to pay for their own defense.

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  11. Robert A. McReynolds:
    The reason why Europe has been able to build such an oppressive socialist system there is because they don’t have to pay for their own defense.

    Agree because it makes it so much easier for Europeans to dole out the goodies to the masses.

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  12. EThompson:
    I certainly hope you were using the term “you” in a general sense; if not you’ve put words in my word. I’m only suggesting we keep an eye open and force other NATO allies to contribute. I think we’ve got NATO and Europe by the crosshairs and they know it.

    Contribute to what?  Let’s kill European youth instead of American?  I realize that’s not what you mean, but that’s how the math winds up for me.  And all for nothing.  F****ng magic beans.

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  13. Haakon Dahl:

    EThompson:
    I certainly hope you were using the term “you” in a general sense; if not you’ve put words in my word. I’m only suggesting we keep an eye open and force other NATO allies to contribute. I think we’ve got NATO and Europe by the crosshairs and they know it.

    Contribute to what?  Let’s kill European youth instead of American?  I realize that’s not what you mean, but that’s how the math winds up for me.  And all for nothing.  F****ng magic beans.

    On some level I would be much more comfortable with European youth getting thrown into the grinder than American youth.

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  14. Robert A. McReynolds:

    Haakon Dahl:

    MJBubba:
    But what we have actually been doing in Afghanistan is only a little bit “nation-building.”

    The whole thing is nation-building.

    What enemy are we there to defeat?  “Terrorism” is not an enemy.  We didn’t go to war in the 1940s against the combined arms doctrine.  We are not fighting the Taliban — we are negotiating with them.  We are *ceding* the battleground, the country, the population, and the whole question of whether the US can do a damned thing anymore — to them.  They win, and no amount of foot-dragging is going to improve that score.  It will only make it worse.

    There was a time when it could have worked (regardless of whether it was a good idea, or our business proper, but I was in for a pound).  That time has gone and it ain’t coming back.

    I think we could leave Afghanistan and declare a victory. Look, bin Laden is dead, the al Qa’ida that we knew in 2001 – 2005 is gone and moved on, and we have the Taliban, at least verbally, denouncing terrorist organizations. I think that is enough to say we met our objectives and now we are going home. Frankly, I don’t know what more anyone would want.

    Team Trump is not directly negotiating with the Taliban.   Hamid Karzai is negotiating to develop a plan for reconciliation between the Taliban and the current government, but Karzai is not part of that government and does not represent it.   Talks are being held in Moscow, because Russians.   President Ashram Ghani’s government was not invited.

    The description of the talks:  “this is the beginning — a warm up.”

    It was also said that the team that was alleged to represent President Ashram Ghani was sort of disrespected, in part because the Russians seemed to favor Hamid Karzai and because the team included two women.

    The Taliban is still saying they intend to eliminate western influences from Afghan life.

    That used to be code language for treating women like animals, and eliminating music and games other than sports.   That was wrapped up in the Taliban’s understanding of Sharia, so it probably still applies.

    Did we mean it when we said we wanted to impose some minimum level of human rights in Afghanistan?

    The more important issue for me is the personal security of Afghans who have taken jobs working for America.   Will they be slaughtered, or allowed to live in peace?   If suitable guarantees for them can be hammered out, then maybe America doesn’t have to care if Afghan boys get used as sex toys and Afghan women are denied educations and get treated like animals.   But America needs to make sure to protect the people who cooperated with America.   Otherwise we will not be able to expect any cooperation from anyone, anywhere, for at least the next two decades.

    [Edited to correct remarks about A. Ghani.]

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  15. Robert A. McReynolds:

    MJBubba:

    Haakon Dahl:
    We should stop playing with ourselves in Afghanistan, and brace for what will come.  This country does not have what it takes to engage in The Long War in any other than a defensive crouch.

    Keep fighting.

    It is not just America that will lose.   If America falls, then western civilization goes with it, and a very black dark age ensues.

    This is silly!! America will NOT fall if we pull out of Afghanistan. What could you possibly point to that would lead anyone to agree with this statement?

    Perhaps America does not fall immediately if we pull out of Afghanistan, but the road to destruction would be paved and events set in motion if we retreated from the Middle East.   Without the stabilizing force of American presence, the Middle East would soon overrun Europe.   Would we come to Europe’s rescue?   I doubt it, though it would signal a deathknell for western civilization.

    In fact, let me list off a few areas where America “has fallen” that many people–I suspect many on this website–don’t really give a damn about.

    1) TSA: You are now a suspect subject to a search by the Federal government for simply holding a plane ticket.

    2) Bulk collection of electronic communications: You are now a subject of intelligence gathering by virtue of holding a cellular phone and having an email address. Again, a violation of your 4th Amendment. (that is the amendment Conservatives really don’t give a damn about anymore because it also helps “urban criminals” stall the criminal justice system.)

    I don’t like either of the above.  Silly TSA procedures came about because the American Left prevented an honest conversation about the threats posed by terrorists who would exploit our transportation systems.   Your problem here is not conservatives but Leftists.   If you can bring about an honest debate about the sources, motives, and support that go into Islimicist terrorism, then perhaps we can have a reconsideration of silly TSA procedures and gross data collection by intelligence agencies.

    3) A militarized police force: Yes, I love this one. Nothing says liberty like a police unit in full battle rattle because they view the citizenry of the United States as a constant threat and adversary.

    I do not think the police “view the citizenry of the United States as a constant threat and adversary.”   Police wanted military weapons because they were getting outgunned by the drug gangs.   Some police agencies have showed that they are too corrupt, but the answer to that is a good housecleaning, not taking away their ability to fight the bad guys.

    4) The sharing of intelligence unrelated to terrorism with local law enforcement. Secret police, gastapo tactics. Just ask President Trump or even Carter Paige.

    This is a really troubling problem that has been shown to be much worse than previously thought since it has been revealed by the Deep State abuses against Team Trump.   It is imperative that we boost President Trump to a second term so that he can take down the Deep State.

    5) Multiple NDAAs that allow the federal government to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens for suspicion of terrorist connections. A sly move by Congress to do away with habeas corpus.

    Also troubling, and in need of greater inspection, oversight, and some sunshine.

    All of these are a direct result of fighting “terrorism.” And are all great examples of how “America has fallen.” Western Civilization died out decades ago when half of its beneficiaries decided to destroy it in the name of “equality” at the expense of liberty.

    Again with the negative waves.

    I hope that America is not a lost cause.   I am trying to keep up the struggle to Make America Great Again.   You are harshing my mellow.

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