Many on the Right who otherwise support Donald Trump, including (apparently) Steve Bannon, differ with the President when it comes to the employment of military force. It’s no secret that many in the new nationalist conservative movement have isolationist leanings on American foreign policy. They see few wars that they think are worth the cost, either because they think that the war is being fought for the benefit of foreign allies or else because it is somehow entirely unnecessary but is being waged purely to increase the profits of defense contractors, who then give kickbacks to Pentagon officials and their retired friends.
The Bannon wing of noninterventionism seems to be a reaction to the two previous administrations. They encourage the president to pull out of Afghanistan completely and to avoid future wars as much as possible. Let the Middle East kill itself, they say. “None of these people are a direct threat to the United States! Our soldiers are dying there for nothing!” Even worse, every combat death is not seen as something heroic to be praised but merely as a tragic accident that serves as an indictment of the war. These aren’t our battles to fight, they say. They benefit powerful interests that are not the interests of regular Americans or the American nation in general.
This view is terribly naïve, and I am happy to say that the President doesn’t share it. Let’s look at Afghanistan as a case study.
Here is a map of Afghanistan from the day Trump was elected, 8 November 2016:
Here is a map of Afghanistan today, 10 November 2017, the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps:
Look at the gains that have been made in only one year, all because Obama rendered the current troops useless and the fact that we haven’t increased the amount of troops yet. The Taliban are making big gains right now. For reference, Afghanistan is roughly the same size as the state of Texas. That green covers a large area.
Now imagine if the Taliban were to make the entire map green. Who would benefit from this? Well, there’s the Iranians who have funded the Taliban and Al Qaeda and given it weapons and assistance for years; they also run the Afghan opium through Africa to be processed into heroin in South America and pushed across the Mexican border into small rural towns near you.
There’s the Russians, who are eager to blunt American prestige and power projection by winning the argument on whether America can even win in faraway places. And then there’s the Chinese and Pakistanis. The former are probably keen to gobble up the trillions of dollars of minerals that are sitting in Afghanistan ready to be exploited; the Pakistani military seems to be interested in having eminent control over this hotbed of Sunni extremism. Al Qaeda would be comfortable there, too, surely.
The Chinese would use those mineral resources to prop up their growing electronics sector. Copper, which Afghanistan has in abundance, would be used to manufacture iPhones and renewable energy implements affordably in China, not in the United States. China would then also have a free hand to promote its other global trade initiatives, expanding a soft hegemony that would make all other countries unable to resist cooperation with Chinese political imperatives, per the Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Afghanistan also has significant reserves of iron ore, gold, and rare earth metals, all of which are vital to the modern economy.
The onslaught of Middle Eastern refugees would not stop, as a waxing Iran would then be able to continually provoke Sunni powers and Israel, leading to further proxy wars and the completion of the Shia Crescent, connecting a contiguous area of power from Hezbollah to Syria to Iraq, Iran, and then to Bahrain and Yemen.
All of these consequences if we were to abandon Afghanistan, but for what? Because the cost is too great on the scales? Because American warriors who fight there are victims?
We have causus belli a million times over. Not only did the Taliban shelter Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who have killed Americans, but they are now winning in Afghanistan precisely because those who would harm the United States’s interests are helping them.
The correct answer is the one espoused by the President himself, that we must seek victory there, not by propping up unrealistic democratic institutions, but by propping up a stable rule based on the simple goal of killing as many terrorists as possible.
The old adage that one dead insurgent creates ten more is simply not true. Genghis Khan had tremendous success in Afghanistan because the Pashtun tribal people respect strength, not cultural sensitivity. Indeed, ironically, the way to be most attuned to Pashtun culture and its millennia-old moral code of inter-clan revenge is to completely overpower them and to destroy all Talibanis who dare to take up arms against the United States and its ally, the Afghan government. That is something these mountain savages would be able to recognize and respect. It is also the key to victory, which we must seek above all else.
Only then can we restore justice to that godless land while also preventing our rivals from triumphing against us and subverting our interests. For those who think it is too costly, I cite the longterm outcomes of abandoning Afghanistan that I listed above. I also submit that American soldiers and Marines who die there are brave men who knowingly risked their lives to fight for their nation and should not be mourned so much as celebrated as courageous heroes. These men are the best of us and are not tragic victims who were duped into throwing their lives away, as some cynics like to say.
Finishing the job in Afghanistan is about finishing a just punishment that we started. It might cost a lot in money and blood, but the fight to bring our enemies to justice is more than worth it. We are doing the right thing in Afghanistan with the added benefit that victory will also pay us dividends.
As the President himself said, “These killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms. Retribution will be fast and powerful.”
Well, that’s the way to achieve victory in Afghanistan. If we care about the domestic problems with American manufacturing, drugs, and the refugee crisis, it’s clear that supporting the President here is also the way to solve those problems too.