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Opinion: Time to Leave

06 January 2019  

When is enough enough?

While traveling in Southern California visiting for Christmas to see family and friends, we didn't have much time to hear what was going on in the national news. When we weren't at one of our sons' houses or at my sister's house, we were in our RV. We spent most of our time, when not with family or friends, watching old Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music. It was peaceful, quiet, relaxing and mostly uninterrupted by the 24 hour news cycle.

One of the news items that did break our tranquility, was news that President Trump had decided to pull our troops our of Syria. A little bit later we heard on the radio that he was also contemplating withdrawing our soldiers out of Afghanistan. It's about time. Our military has been on the ground in that country since October of 2001. That's 18 plus years, the longest foreign war in our nation's history.

One of the reasons our Founding Fathers warned against foreign intrigues and entanglements was they knew the history of the European countries. Those countries were in continuous wars, many lasting decades. Those of us who are Constitutionalists are hardly pacifists, but we do think that we need to learn the lessons that history teaches.

In World War II, President Roosevelt made it abundantly clear to our enemies that we would accept nothing less than unconditional surrender. That was the last war this country won. We set a goal to win and we did. The world was a better place because of it.

In Korea, we didn't fight to win, once the going got tough. We fought to a stalemate and North Korea has been a constant threat since then with periodic flareups that have threatened the cease fire.

In Viet Nam, we never intended to win, only to stop the spread of communism by preventing South Viet Nam from falling. Because of restrictive rules of engagement, the prohibition of the most strategic bombing and political interference, we lost 58,000 of our military and the South Viet Nam domino fell into the communist ranks.

We surely had the right to go into Afghanistan after their Taliban rulers refused to turn over Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cohorts, but why are we still there? If we are the biggest, baddest dog in the street why haven't we used all of our political and military power to have Pakistan, (a tentative ally at best and an aider and abettor in terrorism in reality), turn over all of the Taliban partisans and leaders?

Iraq may be a different story. While Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, is the Middle East better off with him gone? If he had WMDs, he certainly did a good job of hiding them. Saddam was no friend to Iran and acted as a counter balance in the region. Christian and Jewish communities had been in Iraq for centuries and were not targeted by Saddam, but they were pretty much wiped out when the government that followed Saddam lost much of the country to ISIS.

In Syria, there are so many competing factions in this civil war, we should have never have become involved. Some in the intelligence community think we have given arms and supported anti-American groups.

One of the main lessons of recent history is that in almost all cases we should not enter into a conflict we don't intend to win. It is not always a choice between engaging in a war we intend to win or not doing anything in support of our country's best interest.

Michael Scheuer, who used to head the CIA's Bin Laden unit, doesn't think we need a presence in the Middle East. He has expressed the opinion that with the war on terrorism, we may need to go into the region, kill as many of the enemy terrorists as possible and then leave, knowing we may have to go back some years later, when the threat again arises. Keeping our troops in that area of the world only serves to make them targets for our enemies.