Donald Trump was hailed by the media last August when he announced he was sending more U.S. troops to fight in Afghanistan. A Washington Post editorial praised his “principled realism” and saluted “a rare but welcome story of self-correction” (since Trump had portrayed Afghanistan as a lost cause when he was a presidential candidate). A New York Daily News op-ed praised the president because “Trump said ‘win’ and ‘victory’ more times in 15 minutes than President Barack Obama did in eight years.” CNN cheered that expanding the Afghan war allowed Trump to “stake out a more conventional presidential posture.”
Trump assured the American people that “to prosecute this war, we will learn from history.” But his revised mission to Afghanistan — a low-wattage repeat of Obama’s 2009+ “surge” — ignores the atrocities that the U.S. government has long bankrolled in that sprawling nation.
Since 2002, the United States has spent more than $70 billion financing Afghan security forces, including the Afghan military and police. A law sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) prohibits the Pentagon from bankrolling any foreign military units if there is “credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”
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The classical liberal revolution, starting in the 1600s and continuing through the 1700s, created a new ideal for government. Instead of hoping for just rulers who limited the use of their sovereign power, thinkers like Algernon Sidney, John Locke, and many of the...