Donald Trump may or may not be president much longer. But he has an opportunity to actually follow through on the better promises he’s teased his base with for years. Namely, he could end some “endless wars.”
Since he launched his campaign five years ago, Trump has been rhetorically good on various foreign policy issues, albeit very sporadically. Yet as early as the 2015 primary debates, it was nearly always obvious that he had a fondness for surveillance, torture, “bombing the shit out” of ISIS, and Fox News style jingoism.
Commendably though, a key difference between Donald Trump’s base as compared to the Biden camp, or even the Bernie Sanders types, is that they seem to really respond to and even demand that the president stand against the establishment. Other rightful objects of their contempt include the Bushes, the Clintons, “stupid wars,” “endless wars,” the military industrial complex, and even NATO, the anachronistic, war seeking military alliance.
Trump’s talking points may seem supremely disingenuous to those that judge him by his actions and his rhetoric as a whole. But those aforementioned aberrations mean a lot to a great many Americans.
But impressively, more than any other President in memory, he has won himself the support of regular people for his nominal stance against the war party. That the new right tolerates this mostly oratorical position from Trump, and often supports him for it, is a massive, positive shift in political and cultural values from the Bush II, Obama years. Though it leaves much to be desired, this development should not be taken lightly. It’s more than we can say for the bulk of the American left who accepted, without a fight, Sanders’ long history of hawkishness, Zionism, ties to the military industrial complex, and support for anti-Russian sanctions.
In the last few months, with election day nearing, Trump talked more and more about taking the troops out of Afghanistan. In February, a peace deal was signed between the United States and the Taliban for a complete withdrawal by Spring 2021. On Twitter, Trump has hyped the possibility of having all American troops in Afghanistan back home by Christmas.
In 2017, Trump doubled the troop deployment in the Central Asian country. He loosened the rules of engagement and set records for the numbers of bombs dropped there in 2018 and 2019. There were approximately 15,000 munitions dropped in the two-year span, likely causing high civilian casualties. But troop numbers are now roughly half of what they were when he came into the office, about 4,500.
Unfortunately, violence in the country is on the rise and the Doha talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban are reportedly faltering. To continue the war, this situation can and will likely be exploited by the incoming Biden administration, and other hawks both in Kabul and D.C.
Biden has said he does not intend to withdraw, claiming the situations in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, are too ‘complicated,’ indefinitely prohibiting our extrication. This must be “normalcy’s” great return.
However, this week Trump fired his War Secretary, the Raytheon lobbyist and arch anti-China, anti-Russia hawk, Mark Esper. The acting Secretary is now Christopher Miller, formerly the Counterterrorism Chief, who seems to be signaling “it’s time to come home.” What’s more, the antiwar, retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor has been appointed as a senior advisor to Miller. For anybody who wishes to end the endless wars, that is undoubtably a good sign.
Dave Decamp, assistant news editor at Antiwar.com, covered the personnel change and quoted the retired Colonel:
In January, Macgregor told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that President Trump should fulfill his promise to end the war in Afghanistan:
“There is one man, only one man who can take decisive action and end this. His name is Donald Trump. He promised to do that a long time ago. He’s disappointed a lot of us because he hasn’t,” Macgregor said. “He could stand up tomorrow and pull us out, but he needs to send everyone out of the Oval Office who keeps telling him, ‘If you do that and something bad happens, it’s going to be blamed on you, Mr. President.’”
Trump should heed Macgregor’s advice and thwart the hawks.
Additionally, Trump has said he wants to finally take the troops out of Iraq. As the indispensable, former congressman and presidential candidate, Ron Paul wrote back in August,
Earlier this month, while meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister, President Trump reaffirmed his intent to remove all US troops from Iraq. “We were there and now we’re getting out. We’ll be leaving shortly,” the president told reporters at the time…Over the weekend, the Administration announced it would be drawing down troops currently in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,500. That’s a good start.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi has since confirmed that, at least, 2,500 troops have been removed. Regrettably, this is apparently part of a three-year long withdrawal process. While he is still able to, Trump should jettison the protracted policy and bring the remaining troops home immediately.
Trump kicked off 2020 with the brutal and illegal drone strike assassination at the Baghdad International Airport of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the mastermind of the anti-ISIS war. The general was a top Iranian political and national figure. Soleimani, who was reportedly in Iraq on a diplomatic mission, wasn’t alone when he was murdered. Among others, also bombed were Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces deputy. Had the Iranians been less restrained in their retaliation, Trump could have easily started a new war.
Following Soleimani’s extrajudicial killing, the Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to end the nearly 18-year-old U.S. occupation. Trump responded by threatening to block the Iraqi government’s access to their Oil Ministry’s bank account at the New York Federal Reserve. This account holds 90% of their revenue. Trump’s threat, if seen through, would have instantly obliterated the country’s economy. He further menaced Iraq with the possibility of sanctions “like they’ve never seen before ever.”
The infamous U.S.-backed, 1990s UN sanctions regime doubtless already slaughtered Iraqis by the hundreds of thousands.
Iraq War II, Biden’s war that followed, was not a mere “blunder,” as so many pundits casually lament. It was an illegal, aggressive war, based on lies, that killed a million Iraqis, most of whom were civilians. Experts say when Biden championed the war, as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he knew full well Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was known more than a decade prior to the “Shock & Awe” bombings that Saddam Hussein’s government destroyed what so called WMD they had, mostly chemical weapons supplied by the U.S. and their allies during his 1980s war with Iran. Incidentally, the Iran-Iraq war killed a million people, half on both sides. Saddam fought the war with ample support from the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Regan administrations, part of the anti-Iran containment strategy. Paul has discussed, at length, the lasting reverberating effects, the “blowback,” our government’s long war with Iran has had, and continues to have, throughout the region and on U.S. policy at large.
After the Iraqi parliamentary vote, the Trump administration refused to leave, absurdly describing the unwanted U.S. military presence as a “force for good,” in the region. Predictably, the usual spiel followed; we must stay to defeat ISIS anyway. Of course, Iraq’s ISIS problem was directly caused by Obama’s treasonous CIA program backing al Qaeda and their affiliates in Syria in the first place. As for that flimsy excuse to remain, here’s, Antiwar.com news editor, Jason Ditz:
The U.S. troop presence in Iraq, as U.S. officials are so often eager to remind us, is at the voluntary request of the Iraqi government. Currently, that is predicated on fighting ISIS, even though ISIS isn’t really active in Iraq anymore. There had already been talk, before the U.S. started attacking the Baghdad airport and assassinating people, that the invitation had worn out its usefulness.
The popular Iraqi nationalist, Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held a million-man march demanding that all U.S. troops leave the country. After successive decades of unprovoked U.S. proxy war, occupation, sanctions, and devastation, as a people, the least we can do for the Iraqis is to listen to them and get out now.
Trump has also expressed a desire to remove hundreds of troops from Somalia. These are troops he largely deployed in another decades long, undeclared war in another country that poses zero threat to the U.S. population. When Trump inquired with his War Department as to why we even need to be there, former Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis lied to Trump. He claimed that we are involved there to stop Times Square bombing attacks. The truth is the 2010 attempted Time Square bombing was blowback, from a well to do Pakistani American who witnessed the aftermath of a drone strike in his home country. He was attempting to avenge deaths caused by Obama’s drone war in Pakistan, which killed civilians by the tens of thousands. Trump has bombed Somalia more just in the first seven months of this year than the entire Bush II and Obama administrations combined. And in 2019, Trump bombed the country 63 times, the most in a single year so far. One of the alleged reasons for the shake up between the Pentagon and Trump was a disagreement over the pace of his planned withdrawal there. Trump should promptly end the deadly air war, as well as order all troops and Special Operations Forces back home from Somalia.
The unconstitutional U.S. wars waged against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia epitomize the legacy of the Bush II neocons and Obama/Biden’s coalition of neoconservative, neoliberal hawks. These endless regime change wars and terror wars have been with us for almost twenty years. To finally rebuke that shameful legacy, the absolute best thing that Trump could do now would be to decisively end these unconstitutional, bankrupting, bloody, no win, and totally unnecessary disasters. These conflicts have killed or caused the deaths of millions, while many millions more have been displaced. While at home, our economy continues to suffer, tens of veterans commit suicide daily, and the American people have been, and continue to be, criminally mulcted to pay for these multi trillion dollar mass murder sprees.
Enough is enough. Trump should listen to Macgregor and get to work ending the endless wars such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan before it’s too late. We know President Joe Biden won’t.
Trump knows these unprecedented moves would cement his legacy as a hero to his antiwar base and beyond. Contrarily, if he doesn’t follow through here, he’ll always just be another war criminal who lied his way in and out of the Oval Office.