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Trump is right about Iraq and Afghanistan

[The American Vision] …
Trump is right about Iraq and Afghanistan |

President Trump recently opined with characteristic hyperbole on “the worst single mistake ever in the history of our country.” His answer may somewhat shock you, but there’s a lot of truth to it:

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush.” . . . “Obama may have gotten (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is, to me, the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country.”

While perhaps not the worst in our whole history, the post-9-11 Middle East wars are almost certainly the biggest mistake this century. Obamacare may be a close second, but that has been largely suppressed and did not last long. Afghanistan and Iraq, however—now that’s huge:

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it.’ Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Most people have not stopped to realize we have been at war in Afghanistan longer than World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the first Gulf War combined. In terms of length of time, only Vietnam is worse, but that will be eclipsed very soon. In terms of financial cost, only WWII has been worse.

Even then, though, a recent study puts the total cost of Afghanistan—including future veteran’s benefits, Homeland Security, etc.—at $5.6 Trillion (!).

In terms of bare military and defense spending, the post-9-11 wars in the middle east have cost us $1.52 Trillion. That is over twice the comparable cost of Vietnam.

Aside from the main point, Trump has two other great points. First, unnecessary war is a terrible misdirection of capital. Second, most people don’t even know, let alone count, the costs for both sides.

Trump says if you want to fix a window, people obstruct and resist. Construction projects meet resistance and red tape at every corner. Destruction seems to come easily. “Defense” spending—which for most of our purposes is offense spending—is the largest single chunk of our budget and is almost untouchable.

Don’t get me wrong, I have stated my opposition to all taxation and government spending. I call it all socialism, indiscriminately. Nevertheless, in the same book I argue that as long as we are appropriating trillions, doesn’t it make more sense to spend that money on positive and constructive measures rather than killing people and blowing up stuff—especially the innocent?

Trump seems to get this, at least in this case. It was in his mind the single largest mistake to invade the Middle East. The cost has been astronomical, and the capital could have been used to build rather than to destroy. The result instead has been waves of devastated cities, villages, innocent “collateral damage,” and property.

This leads to the second point: we really should count the devastation on both sides. Trump says, “I like to count both sides. Millions of lives.”

He’s right again. The casualties have been both immense and tragic. Americans have sustained relatively few casualties in these wars: roughly 6,800 dead. The opposition forces, however, sustained over 100,000 dead; but that is only the military. There have also be somewhere around 200,000 civilians killed as a direct result of the war alone.

As an indirect result of the wars, one study estimates an additional 360,000 Afghanis have died, and another 200,000 Pakistanis. These are innocent civilians who had nothing to do with terrorism, war, 9-11, or anything related.

Studies agree there are around 100,000 to 120,000 documented civilian deaths in Iraq. Undocumented death tolls are far higher, ranging from five to ten times that amount. That means potentially in the millions.

So, Trump is right, it was a huge mistake. It was the biggest mistake of the century. There is an enormous human cost to these unnecessary wars, and it very well could climb into the millions of lives. It cost upwards of $7 trillion dollars all said and done. Even if it’s just $5.6 trillion, what’s a few trillion between defense-contracting friends, huh?

In light of these types of criticisms by Trump, New York Magazine quipped, “Half of Donald Trump’s critiques of the Iraq War sound like they were written by Noam Chomsky.” But let’s not pretend that opposition to the war is only leftist, as if the war were a clearly partisan issue. Many supported going to war and funding it ever since.

The opposition came most openly, loudly, and consistently from the libertarian sector, including Ron Paul and others. It came from my part from a conservative, biblical view point. Anyone who cares about fiscal integrity, deficits, debts, unjust wars, and human life—not to mention the judgement of God because of these things—ought to agree with Trump on this one. Christians of all people ought to agree.

It’s time to give a critical look at all the unnecessary wars in America from a biblical and ethical point of view. It’s time to prevent any future ones by the same principle as well. It’s time to build a foreign policy on it—non-aggression and non-interventionism.


Dr. Joel McDurmon is the President of American Vision and the author of numerous books, including The Bible and War in America: A Biblical View of an American Obsession and Steps to Recover Liberty.

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 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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