President Donald Trump has been largely silent on the issue of the Afghanistan War, but top advisers are planning to recommend an increase in the number of troops stationed there. Currently, there are 8,400 troops present, and the proposal would increase that number by 3,000-5,000. In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, large majorities agreed that the war in Afghanistan was not only justified, but necessary. In November 2001, 80 percent of people favored the invasion, and in early 2002, several months into the fighting, 93 percent believed it was the right decision to go to war. Only one member of Congress voted against it. A decade and a half later, with the conflict still ongoing, that number dropped to 54 percent, and those who believed it was a mistake had risen from single digits to 42 percent.
Whether or not a majority of people ever believe the conflict should never have happened, the evidence is clear. The Afghanistan War is a failure. It’s time to give up this fight once and for all, and bring everyone home. Re-escalating, as stalwart hawk Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham have advocated, will simply waste more blood and resources in a battle that can’t be won.
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With the recent decision to deploy additional troops to Iraq and Syria to help in the assault on Mosul and Raqqa, the two largest cities within the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed Caliphate, it appears that the Trump administration has begun to take the first steps towards re-engaging the US military in another Middle East intervention.
Yet, while the prospect of more boots on the ground in the Middle East inflames passions among some members of the media and the occasional politician, the continual flow of US armaments into the region hardly seems to register on the public agenda. In 2015, US companies sold $209.7 billion worth of military equipment, $33 billion of which was to Gulf countries.
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During the campaign, Donald Trump positioned himself as the non-interventionist candidate. His first few months in office have debunked this idea. Trump launched his first drone strike within days of his inauguration, and has intensified action on this front. In January, he also ordered a Special Forces raid in Yemen that killed civilians, as well as a Navy Seal.
Now, he has officially entered the Syrian Civil War following a missile strike launched in response to the recent chemical attack on civilians. Senator Marco Rubio and others are now calling for regime change, and Secretary of State Tillerson says plans are being formulated to remove Syrian President Bashar Al–Assad. If the Iraq War and the intervention in Libya taught us anything, it’s that forceful ousting of a sitting government will fail, and therefore the US should resist doing so at all costs.
Anyone with a heart feels for the plight of Syrians trapped in what imaginatively is nothing less than hell. The images and videos emerging in the aftermath of the chemical attack are incredibly jarring. But the best policy is not for the US or other nations to further escalate the fighting.
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