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Another Year of the War in Afghanistan

September 11, 2018 in Economics

By A. Trevor Thrall, Erik Goepner

A. Trevor Thrall and Erik Goepner

In August 2017, President Donald Trump rubberstamped his
predecessors’ failed policies when he announced America’s
recommitment to the mission in Afghanistan. In his speech, Trump
made the same promises of victory and signed on to the same set of
goals outlined many times by President George W. Bush and President
Barack Obama:

Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win.
From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our
enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the
Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror
attacks against America before they emerge.

Trump’s plan for victory in Afghanistan was dead on arrival.
Based on the same faulty premises about the threat of terrorism and
the benefits of military action, Trump’s Afghanistan campaign has
done little to make Americans safer.

None of this is news. By the time Trump made his announcement
last year, the fundamental indicators of failure in Afghanistan had
been easy to see for quite some time. Why has the United States
embraced the same feckless strategy over 17 years and three
presidents?

The answer is simple: Washington’s continued embrace of a host
of strategic myths.

As we remember the
victims of 9/11 and honor the millions who have served in the war
that followed, it is past time for the United States to find its
way out of Afghanistan.

The safe haven fallacy has promoted unwarranted concern over the
threat of future terrorism. When Trump asked why the United States
needed to stay in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense James Mattis
responded, “to prevent a bomb from going off in Times Square.” And
indeed, many argue that the failure of terrorists to launch a
second 9/11-style attack proves the value of continued American
efforts in Afghanistan and military action elsewhere. In his August
2017 speech, Trump made it clear that this argument was central to
his decision to extend the American commitment to Afghanistan,
noting,

The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and
unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was
planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was
ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists.
A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including
ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before
September 11th.

Despite its popularity in Washington, the safe haven argument is
overblown. The most important base of operations for the 9/11
terrorists was not Afghanistan, but the United States. As the 9/11
commission report describes, all of the hijackers entered the
United States legally, where they received their technical (pilot)
training, not …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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