We are starting to have two generations of soldiers in Afghanistan, the longest war in US history. We have been fighting in Iraq since 2003. We have troops in Syria and were recently surprised by the death of soldiers in Niger. A recent estimate is that the War on Terror has touched 39% of the countries in the world.
This war has resulted in well over 6,000 US deaths and 50,000 US wounded. The number of dead and wounded in foreign countries cannot be accurately assessed. The cost of this war is also difficult to estimate but has probably been in excess of $5-6 trillion. Imagine how much safer we would be if just a small fraction of this amount had been spent on homeland security instead of foreign wars?
The war has also leaked into our domestic policies, justifying an enormous expansion of the surveillance state and other civil rights violations, almost always with the support of both old parties.
And all of this is supposedly authorized by the following 62 words from September 2001:
IN GENERAL- That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
It is absurd to pretend that these words justify action over almost 17 years in dozens of countries and against myriad targets. Yet, Congress has been too cowardly to assert its rights of control.
These wars began with, and continue to be justified by, the risk of terrorism. Yet, the risk of death through terrorism was always tiny. Moreover, the risk has not been reduced through our military actions, but increased: “blowback” is the biggest source of terrorism. And our military action has created “terror math” under which there were about 32,000 jihadi terrorists when we began the War on Terror, whereas now there are over 100,000 after we have killed approximately 60,000.
The War on Terror is the greatest recruiting tool the terrorists have.
It is also madness to believe that we have to defeat terror groups “over there” in order to stop them from “coming here.” The typical act of terror committed now is driving a rented truck into a crowd. The terrorists don’t need to control territory to do this; it can be planned and financed around a kitchen table anywhere in the world. By trying to defeat terrorists “over there,” we are just creating the chaos and refugees on which terrorism thrives.
The saddest thing of all is the impact that this has upon our soldiers. They signed up out of a patriotic and idealistic desire to protect our country. Instead, they have been sent to fight pointless and unwinnable wars, under conditions where it is impossible to tell friend from foe and where a law degree is necessary to understand the rules of engagement. They return from this experience mentally and physically shattered, to be “treated” by an incompetent Veterans Health Administration.
The best policy for these damaged veterans is not to create them in the first place.
These wars do not make us more secure and they certainly do not make us freer or more prosperous. As the old saying goes, “war is the health of the state” – and only the state benefits. As your Representative, I will fight to end these pointless and counterproductive wars. And I will fight to bring control over these foreign interventions back to Congress, where it belongs.