16 years ago the United States responded to an act of barbarism against the U.S. by entering into a conflict that would become an even greater tragedy. Because of the unforgettable loss of nearly 3,000 innocent citizens of nearly 60 countries, as well as the courageous first responders trying to save them, the Bush administration decided to throw some of the best the United States had to offer at what was ultimately a futile endeavor — an undertaking continued by his two successors.
That initial decision was made concrete through the Authorization for Use of Military Force, an act that should terrify any proponent of small government – – presumably an overwhelming majority of those associated with this college.
The AUMF puts absolutely no limitation on what kind of force can be used, as well as when and where it can be used. It allows the president to make the final decision regarding connections between terrorist groups and their involvement in 9/11, as well as how, when, and where they will be engaged.
Subscribers to the political thought of the Founding must oppose the War in Afghanistan and the AUMF on principle – – if they are consistent; or they must at least be in favor of ending the AUMF and a renewal of debate on the war in Congress. If not, then they are just virtue signaling and paying advantageous lip service.
The men and women that voluntarily choose to serve in the armed forces are, without doubt, exceptional. They are willing to enter into a service that could ask for their lives in the performance of duty. And their reward is that the government throws them at an ideological and intangible enemy whose ranks are replenished because we keep fighting.
Our veterans have had their youth robbed. They have had their patriotism and sense of service exploited by their government. And they have given their limbs and lives for a war that, at this point, lacks a just cause.
This is not to trivialize the tragedy. Over 5,000 men and women who chose to do what their fellow citizens chose not to do. This is simply a recognition that, to the U.S. government, those 5,000 men are simply means to maintain the country’s interest in oil and nation building.
For the first time in our nation’s history, the U.S. is fighting a war in which the children of the first men to land in Afghanistan can legally fight there themselves. Same war. Same families. Same failures.
Believing beyond reason that their deaths are always justified and worth something does not honor members of the military. It is dishonorable to send warriors to die for worthless causes. Trying to find justification for the loss of our nation’s youth in the Middle East does not do anything to help the dead but ending the wars can help the living.
With the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden, shouldn’t that mandate be complete? If our global military presence is truly in response to 9/11 then congratulations, “mission accomplished.” We accomplished it six years ago. There is no established end for the renewed war in Afghanistan, not that the AUMF had an end originally.
Perhaps those who respond with righteous indignation and anger to the position that our dead soldiers — who are as much victims of the Global War on Terror as NYC firefighters were victims of 9/11 — are simply insecure in their position of support for the war and an unamended AUMF. The more obstinate they are in the face of these facts the more they probably wish they were not so.
James Madison said in the National Gazette that there are two types of wars: those declared by the arbitrary will of government and those willed by society. According to the most recent polling data on the War in Afghanistan, our longest running war is also our most unpopular. Support for the war in Afghanistan dipped below 20 percent in 2013, according to a CNN poll, and a 2017 Politico poll shows only 23 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is winning in Afghanistan.
The first responders of NYC that were at ground zero were genuine heroes performing real and meaningful acts of heroism. The real tragedy of America’s history with the War on Terror is not 9/11. It’s the veterans who willingly gave their lives unnecessarily and those who continue to do so.