Tag Archives: Nation Building

Sen. Rand Paul Advocates Trump’s Proposed Military Parade, With One Condition

Washington, D.C.— Earlier this week, President Donald Trump called for a military parade in Washington, D.C., reportedly inspired by the French Bastille Day parade he watched in Paris this past summer. While this news has driven some pundits into a frenzy regarding Trump’s penchant for a perceived glorification of militarism, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has come out in support of the idea— but with certain conditions.

Paul brought an insightful perspective forth in an op-ed for Fox News, where he declared his conditional support for a military parade – but with one major provision: the U.S. “declare victory in Afghanistan, bring home our 14,000 troops and hold a victory parade.”

Paul wrote:

A military parade in the nation’s capital? The last military parade in Washington was in 1991, after our victory in the first Iraq War.

Though the martial image of high-stepping soldiers is not one I tend to associate with our nation’s Founders’ distrust of a standing Army, I’m not against a victory celebration. So I propose we declare victory in Afghanistan, bring home our 14,000 troops and hold a victory parade.

We defeated the enemy in Afghanistan. We killed or captured the terrorists who planned, plotted, or aided in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. We killed the ringleader, Usama bin Laden. We disrupted the terrorists’ camps where they plotted and trained. We dislodged the Taliban government that aided and abetted bin Laden.

We just don’t know how to appreciate a good thing. A big part of our foreign policy failures is not knowing when and how to declare victory. So, why not a parade?  Bring the troops home and declare the victory that should have been declared years ago.

The only reason victory is elusive in Afghanistan is that presidents continue to have an impossible definition of victory. If victory is creating a nation where no real nation has ever existed, then no victory will ever occur.

If victory requires the disparate tribes and regional factions of Afghanistan to have more allegiance to a regime in Kabul than to their local tribal leaders, then victory will never come.

We spend about $50 billion a year in Afghanistan. When quizzed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently, undersecretaries of Defense and State could not answer the most rudimentary of questions concerning the war.

How many Taliban fighters do we face? Blank faces for an answer. What percentage of the Taliban are unrepentant terrorists unwilling to negotiate? Blank faces again. 

The Taliban now control a significant amount of Afghanistan’s real estate. Are the Taliban open to negotiating, considering that they appear to be winning?  Blank faces again, but with perhaps a touch of remorse, knowing that there really is no possible military solution in Afghanistan.

The neocons are unaccustomed to nuance in victory. They seem to have learned some lesson about unconditional and total surrender when America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II with the surrender of Japan, and they seem unwilling or unable to accept any other form of victory.

So, by all means, a parade – yes!  As long as it is a victory parade heralding an end to America’s longest war.

[RELATED: WATCH: Senator Rand Paul Calls Out Government Surveillance Power on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert]

Although his moderate form of non-interventionism is not quite on par with his father Ron Paul’s complete renunciation of the U.S. as an imperialist power, Rand Paul is certainly unique in his foreign policy positions, when compared with the standard neo-conservative thinking regarding foreign interventions and “nation building” that has come to dominate both the Republican and Democratic foreign policy establishment.

Inspector General Calls US Effort to Rebuild Afghanistan an “Abysmal Failure”

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko is an investigator charged with auditing and reporting to Congress on US government spending in Afghanistan in an effort to prevent waste and fraud. On Tuesday, he discussed his latest findings with reporters and painted a pessimistic picture of how funds have been used to date. According to Military Times, Sopko said that recent efforts to boost the Afghan economy, which have already cost American taxpayers upwards of $700 million, “accomplished nothing.” He also called the overall reconstruction effort, on which the US has already spent $120 billion, an “abysmal failure.”

“This is the most money we have spent on reconstruction of a single country in the history of our republic. Shouldn’t it have been better?” said Sopko.

He blamed the failure on a lack of leadership and described the reconstruction effort as a disorganized free-for-all. Stars and Stripes quoted Sopko as saying, “It seems like no one is responsible for anything in Afghanistan except to get the money out… When you go to Afghanistan and you talk to the people in the US Embassy, I don’t see anybody in charge on developing the economy… There are people who work on it… but there is nobody who is tasked with saying, ‘Your job is to work with the Afghans and make certain they get a viable economy. And if you don’t succeed, you will be held accountable.'”

Examples of the failures include a $34 million US-built base that will likely have to be demolished due to a variety of planning errors including the installation of power outlets that run on the US voltage standard, which is incompatible with power utilities in Afghanistan, and a mishap in which the Department of Defense spent over $400 million building 16 airplanes for the Afghan government only to sell them for scrap to a local contractor in Afghanistan for $32,000 without putting them to their intended use.

Sopko also announced that his office is launching a formal investigation into the DOD’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, which is charged with promoting industrial development in Afghanistan and has been accused of mismanagement. He indicated that questions have been raised as to “whether [the task force] should have existed.”

“I have not found anybody who’s lost a job for screwing up — and there have been a lot of screw-ups in Afghanistan,” said Sopko about the overall lack of accountability in the US effort to rebuild Afghanistan.

John Sopko also pointed out the fact that the Afghan government, which receives 90% of its funding from outside sources like the US, does not have the ability to maintain the infrastructure that the US is providing for it. He said, “When you go into a country like Afghanistan, you should to take into account what the government and the economy is faced with, and you should take into account — unless you want to create a client state for X number of years — how do you develop a sustainable economy? And we have not seen that.”

He suggested that US-led efforts to boost Afghanistan’s economy and strengthen its government can only work if taxpayers continue funding it on an ongoing basis. Said Sopko, “they can’t afford the government we’ve given them, and if our intended goal was a government that would keep or kick the terrorists out, we’re going to have to fund it.”