President Trump should be applauded for resisting the urge to simply sign off on a strategy that extends the failed status quo in Afghanistan. Military withdrawal and global ISR are the best way to assure American national security, safeguard the lives of American service members, and preserve the Armed Forces’ fighting strength for the next time it is needed.
Neither Trump or Kim wants to go down this road, yet the language that both have chosen to use has had the adverse effect of dragging their nations into the possibility of an armed dispute. Neither wants to blink or back down for fear of being perceived around the world as weak.It’s time for that vitriol to stop.
Smart, pragmatic diplomacy is the only thing that will salvage a bilateral relationship that is too important to blow up. We may not like the Russians, but we still need to find a way to work with each other. The only other alternative is an even more terrible relationship, a more destabilizing global arena, and the prospect that the war of words transitions into a more dangerous phase.
That does not mean that the United States has no interest in fostering political stability in the region and containing North Korea, especially with the vast amount of commerce at stake in the region. But those interests can be better served by South Korea and other countries in the neighborhood–– including Japan and China––working together to create regional security to contain North Korea. After all, North Korea is a greater threat to them than the U.S. and they have the most to lose.
Whether those strikes are necessary, right, or prudent may be subject to debate. There is a long record of warnings from U.S. military and intelligence officers plus independent studies that airstrikes often exacerbate security threats by radicalizing previously ordinary people who lose innocent family members to American bombs As conservative columnist Jim Antle has argued, “Just like government stimulus spending might end up hurting the economy, Obamacare might cancel your health insurance, welfare policies might prolong a cycle of poverty, military interventions aimed at killing terrorists might actually create them.”
The administration’s continued assurances that President Trump will not repeat the nation-building failures of his two immediate predecessors are well taken, but recent history suggests they are inadequate. Whatever Trump’s intentions now, escalation in Syria will lead to nation-building in Syria, exactly what Trump promised voters he wouldn’t do.
More importantly, the vastly superior U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal acts as a powerful deterrent. Unless he is suicidal -- and the evidence suggests otherwise -- Kim Jong Un would face the prospect of utter annihilation if he were to launch a nuclear weapon against the United States. It is important to remember that deterrence worked when America and the Soviet Union had thousands of warheads pointed at each other, and that supposedly "crazy” or "irrational" leaders with nuclear weapons -- such as Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong -- were successfully deterred.
The cost is enormous. “We have too much [property], it’s too old and it’s too expensive,” says Lt. Gen. John Cooper, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering, and force protection. At present, the Pentagon calculates it is saving $12 billion annually from past BRACs. Some $5 billion of that comes from the last BRAC alone, which closed a mere 5 percent of excess DoD holdings. That means a more thorough pare down could produce more dramatic savings still.
It is not a vital national interest for the United States to commit to a course of action that its own intelligence agencies say will continue to result in failure. What is a vital national interest, however, is the safety and security of the American homeland. Ending the mission in Afghanistan will stop 16 years of strategic bleeding and preserve the president’s ability to ensure the military is ready and able to decisively win should it be called on to defend the country’s vital interests.
I first joined the U.S. Army as a private in 1985 and did so out of a desire to serve the country. Like every other member of our Armed Forces, I raised my right hand and swore an oath of allegiance to defend the Constitution of the United States. Everyone who volunteers to serve tacitly recognizes they may one day have to lay their lives down in defense of the country. It is a perversion of their oath and abuse of their loyalty to instead ask them to spill their blood and give their lives for the interests of other governments.