By Katie Kieffer
Let’s make foreign policy like it’s 2000. I think we will support our troops and vets by revisiting the foreign policy that former President Bush expressed in 2000. Otherwise, we will send brave hearts into vain battles.
In October, 2000, George W. Bush debated Al Gore on C-SPAN. He said:
“I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying: ‘We do it this way, so should you.’ … It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself on foreign policy; if we’re an arrogant nation they’ll resent us; if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us. …Somalia started out as a humanitarian mission then changed into a nation-building mission and that’s where the mission went wrong; the mission was changed, and, as a result, our nation paid a price and so I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building. …If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world and [conducting] nation-building missions, then we are going to have a serious problem coming down the road and I’m going to prevent that.”
As we know, Bush did not fulfill his 2000 foreign policy goals. I think he was right to enter Afghanistan and route the Taliban immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, he overextended our stay and his executive reach. Today, Bush’s successor, President Obama, is proof that Bush was right in 2000. For, Obama’s efforts to ramp up Bush’s post-2000 expansionism are failing.
This month, Obama gathered his NATO partners in Chicago and signed an agreement that hands major combat operations over to Afghan security forces by the summer of 2013. (So much for consulting Congress and the Constitution.)
Nearly 11 years of war and $642 billion dollars are the temporal and monetary costs to U.S. taxpayers for the War in Afghanistan. No metric, however, quantifies the cost of elongated war to U.S. troops and veterans.
Obama should never have sent an additional 33,000 troops to risk their lives in this hopeless region in 2010. This month, bipartisan leaders of the congressional intelligence committee reported that the Taliban has become stronger since Obama’s troop surge. And, American troops are increasingly dying at the hands of our allies. Since 2007, around 80 Americans have died at the hands of our Afghan “partners.”
I think Obama should tell Americans the truth about Afghanistan. The RAND Corporation recently produced a study for the Pentagon: “The study says violence initially increases after U.S. special forces go into an area to root out insurgents. After the Americans withdraw and leave behind a police unit, violence usually falls [back] to the level before U.S. teams first intervened, the study found,” conveys the Chicago Tribune.
Obama should bring the troops home now—not in the summer of 2013. He can better utilize our troops on the U.S.-Mexico border where drug cartel violence threatens American ranchers, farmers and the U.S. food supply.
By keeping our troops and resources abroad, Obama is perpetuating a situation where current and former armed forces deal with suicidal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A U.S. vet commits suicide every 80 minutes, according to a recent estimate by the Department of Veteran Affairs.
The number of off-duty soldiers who are dying in PTSD-induced car accidents when they return to the U.S. is soaring. “…Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are unique [compared to other vets], for one major reason: Their combat experiences were frequently defined by dangers on the road, particularly from roadside bombs. …returning troops may be reflexively applying driving techniques …[such as] speeding up at intersections to avoid gunfire or scanning the roadside for danger instead of watching the road ahead,” reports the New York Times.
Have you ever heard of Spc. Dennis Weichel? I bet not. If Obama appreciated the extreme stress and sacrifice that our troops are undergoing overseas, he would have made a bigger deal of 29-year-old Weichel who recently gave up his life to save a 10-year-old Afghan boy named Zaiullah. Weichel had three young children of his own yet he dove to save Zaiullah from a massive armored vehicle that ran him over instead. The New York Times reports: “…the military in Afghanistan debated whether to release the details of Weichel’s death—even though he had been promoted to sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star posthumously…”
Or how about Marine Sgt. Gary Stein? Despite nine years of honorable service, Stein received a less-than-honorable discharge and lost most of his benefits for merely questioning (via 11 words on Facebook) Obama’s leadership style—which is characterized by routine dismissal of the Constitution.
Obama is looking out for his reelection. His administration recently allowed Hollywood producers into CIA and Navy SEAL vaults to work on an Osama bin Ladin raid film that was originally scheduled to appear before the November election.
Meanwhile, a 26-year-old prisoner of war named Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho is serving his third year as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan. Bergdahl’s parents are very frustrated. I think our President has his priorities mixed up if Hollywood producers seem to get more attention than the Bergdahls.
Today is Memorial Day. I think we can honor our troops and vets by vowing to abandon an unconstitutional foreign policy that unjustly kills, injures and depresses American armed forces. Let’s start making foreign policy like it’s 2000.