Is Senator Rand Paul Right About Afghanistan?

Senator Rand Paul was on CBS News “Face the Nation” on Sunday, and said what many conservatives have been thinking for a long time: “Is the military budget too small or maybe is our mission too large around the world?”

Senator Paul went on to analyze the situation in Afghanistan for CBS News’ Major Garrett saying, “…one of the questions the Republicans I think are not willing to ask themselves is can you be fiscally conservative and be for unlimited military spending?”

Because Republicans are unwilling to confront that they want more, more, more for military spending, said Senator Paul, “to get that they have to give the Democrats what they want which is more and more and more for domestic spending and the compromise while some are happy with bipartisanship. Well if the bipartisanship is exploding the deficit I’m not so sure that’s the kind of bipartisanship we need.”

That spending is out of control and unsustainable is beyond question, and Senator Paul is not the only conservative to oppose the continuation of Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits. However, in our view Senator Paul’s most insightful commentary was not about spending, it was about the justification for the continued war in Afghanistan.

Senator Paul told Major Garrett, “I think the Afghan war is long past its mission. I think we killed and captured and disrupted the people who attacked us on 9/11 long ago. And I think now it’s a nation-building exercise.”

Paul went on to explain to Garrett, “We’re spending 50 billion dollars a year. And if the president really is serious about infrastructure, a lot of that money could be spent at home. Instead of building bridges and schools and roads in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. I think we could do that at home and the interesting thing is I think the president’s instincts lean that way… I think Donald Trump is probably the least interventionist minded president we’ve had in a long time. I mean he criticized George Bush for the intervention in the Iraq war. I think he’s not that excited about continuing the Afghan war forever. But the generals who surrounded him with don’t want to admit that there isn’t a military solution. And so, the war goes on and on and on. And really I think after 15 years and a trillion dollars that it’s time for them [the Afghan people] to take over their country.”

Senator Paul has a point, but it’s not just the money that is being spent in Afghanistan – it is also about American lives and whether they are being committed to winning a war or saving face for failed generals.

Our enemy in Afghanistan is not interested in negotiating a cease-fire, joining a coalition government and being part of the “family of nations” that foolish diplomats and those ignorant of Islam’s tenets imagine exists.

They are only interested in living in a Sharia-compliant culture and eventually creating the worldwide Ummah, or community of Islam, that Mohammad commanded.

The notion that we can broker a peace and some sort of coalition with the Taliban is a folly born of desperation for generals to save political face, not win the war Islam has declared on the West.

From the failed efforts to implement a new Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan, to the false deadlines Obama established for withdrawal, nothing American leaders have done has achieved the goal of a stable regime in Afghanistan that is inhospitable to Muslim terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities.

And the reason for this failure has nothing to do with the bravery and selflessness of the American military personnel deployed to accomplish the goal – it has everything to do with the unwillingness of American political level leaders to recognize what enemy we are fighting and to deploy the correct resources to defeat it.

The war in Afghanistan isn’t a regional or tribal conflict, it isn’t a war on “terrorism,” it isn’t a war on narco-warlords (even though 90% of the worlds illicit opium originates there); it is a war between the values of Islam and the values of the Western Enlightenment, and if you refuse to understand it and fight it on those terms the war in Afghanistan will never be over and certainly never be won.

If you understand that the teachings of Islam are the fundamental motivators of the people who we are fighting in Afghanistan, then that should inform our entire strategy.

That means instead of leaving thousand troops to Afghanistan forever, we need to deploy all the means of our national power against the real enemy – the doctrines of Islam that motivate the Taliban.

It means we deploy psyops to attack the enemy’s belief system. It means we offer an alternative belief system to replace the one that is motivating the enemy. And it means we attack the centers and advocates of that belief system.

The United States is doing none of that in Afghanistan, because, as far as we can tell, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and his yes men at the National Security Council believe that “Islam is a religion of peace” and not the real enemy.

While there is no doubt that, given unlimited operational freedom and resources, the United States military could defeat the Taliban, that wouldn’t defeat the enemy of Sharia supremacy.

Fanned by Iran, and other sources of Muslim culture, it would pop-up again unless Afghan society is completely remade through a multi-generational program of nation-building that, under present circumstances, few, if any, Americans would be willing to support and even fewer Afghans would welcome.

Until we fight the whole war in Afghanistan – not just the one on the kinetic battlefield – sending one more dollar or sending one more American to Afghanistan is an act every bit as immoral and unsupportable as sending thousands of brave Americans into the jungles of Vietnam, not to win the war, but so that American political leaders could declare victory and go home.

Please tell us what you think – leave your comments in the comments section below.

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