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I don't always agree with Biden but on Afghanistan troop withdrawal he's got it right

Carrying through with plans set into motion by Trump is something all Americans can cheer.

Analysis | Asia-Pacific

I don’t often agree with President Biden, but when it comes to the issue of the war in Afghanistan, I do agree it’s time to bring our troops home.

This year, we mark 20 years of combat in Afghanistan. We remember and honor the brave U.S. service members who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who have been wounded in action. We thank the courageous men and women in uniform who are still abroad, a world away from their homes and families, fighting this war.

I’ve supported ending this war for over a decade. The time to bring our troops home is now or as soon as possible. The military mission is long since gone, and this war has been over for many years now.

I think it’s important for this country to recognize the moments when a Republican and Democrat can agree on something. I’m grateful President Biden is keeping President Trump’s plan to leave Afghanistan, even with a delay until fall.

We must remember how much this has cost us already – 20 years, 2,300 lives, 20,000 wounded soldiers, and a trillion dollars. Not to mention, the internal struggles of lives shattered, relationships destroyed, and the continued loss of life from members of the military who came home with PTSD.

Wars also cost money. Ending the war would free up $50 billion a year that could go towards building infrastructure at home. That’s $500 billion over a decade.

It has been nearly two decades, and Congress has failed to assert its constitutional duty to conduct forceful oversight over the war in Afghanistan.

That’s why, I reintroduced the American Forces Going Home After Noble (AFGHAN) Service Act, to return our combat forces home from Afghanistan in an orderly and responsible way, while also setting a framework for political resolution in Afghanistan without a permanent U.S. presence.

The AFGHAN Service Act enables Congress to act as the Constitution envisioned, and it will bring our troops home after nearly two decades of courageous service.

For their heroism and valor, my legislation also ensures we recognize and honor that service. Drawing from the billions saved by ending nation-building in Afghanistan, my bill provides a $2,500 bonus within one year to all the members of our volunteer military who have served in the Global War on Terrorism.

Those who are in support of forever wars are arguing for a delay and call this dangerous. They recoil at the term, “endless wars.” But we must ask the question, isn’t a war without a clearly definable and achievable end state, by definition, if not in practice, an endless war?  Because that’s where we are in Afghanistan. 

No military strategist, no general, really no soldier even asserts any sort of military mission in Afghanistan anymore. Nothing about delaying our withdrawal gets us one step closer to an acceptable end state.

At the height of our involvement, we conducted daily airstrikes, had over 100,000 of our forces and thousands more allied forces on the ground, and literally poured money into the country but still didn’t coerce the insurgents into a final deal.

By now, it’s clear that American troops have achieved what they were sent to carry out in October 2001, including the removal of Al Qaeda’s base, and the death of Osama bin Laden. But, the continued commitment of our troops and billions in funding will not enable the Afghan people to rebuild their own nation or stabilize the central government.

Our priority as a nation should always be American diplomacy, not war, conflict, and regime change, which has been our narrative for far too long. Staying at war in Afghanistan will only compound that problem.

It’s time to leave Afghanistan. Let’s bring our young men and women home.  Let’s stop spending the money building things over there that we so desperately need here. Most importantly, let’s stop placing our brave forces at risk for a war that should have ended long ago.

Our principal goal was to make sure Afghanistan wouldn’t become a safe haven for terrorists, which we clearly have accomplished.

Most Americans support the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Endless war weakens our national security, robs this and future generations through skyrocketing debt, and creates more enemies to threaten us.

Our soldiers have gone above and beyond what has been asked of them in Afghanistan. It is time to declare the victory we achieved long ago, bring our troops home, and put America’s needs first.

Sen. Rand Paul, 2019.(GageSkidmore/Flickr/Creative Commons)
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