When George W. Bush first ran for President, he did so on a platform of non-interventionism. He spoke against the interventionist tendencies of Bill Clinton and the idea that we should go around the world telling people how to live their lives. Everything changed 16 years ago on this very date. The horrific terrorist attacks against our country led to military action in Afghanistan to avenge the victims.
Avenging the fallen quickly turned into imperialism. What was said to be a targeted mission to strike back at terrorists soon became an endless occupation.
America’s longest war has cost taxpayers billions and thousands of brave soldiers their lives. This has occurred as the objective has continued to shift and change over time. What started as an invasion became an occupation, and a targeted mission morphed into endless reconstruction. The United States military became a stabilization force in a region that has been at constant war throughout history.
It was for these reasons, candidate Donald Trump and even pre-presidential campaign Donald Trump both opposed the continued presence in Afghanistan.
In March 2013, Trump called for immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. He said, “We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.”
That was no aberration, but rather the policies that Trump had signaled over and over throughout time. In November 2013, Trump said, “We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!”
That was four years ago. Four years later as President, Trump has deployed more soldiers to Afghanistan and is reportedly considering another almost four thousand soldiers for deployment. Trump is now prepared to waste more blood and treasure overseas in America’s longest war.
The parallels to George W. Bush and even Barack Obama are undeniable. Both candidates ran on a platform of opposing foreign intervention. Bush spoke out against Clinton’s tendencies to intervene abroad and said we cannot continue telling the world how to live. Obama spoke out directly against Bush and his conflicts in the Middle East.
But when they rose to President, both individuals immediately did a 180 and became favorable to war. Bush led us into multiple conflicts and would massively bolster our presence in the Middle East. Obama would resist completely leaving the Middle East, instead continuing to maintain our presence in Afghanistan while directly enabling ISIS and other Islamic extremists in Libya and Syria.
As a candidate, Trump had taken criticism for attacking former Florida governor Jeb Bush over his brother’s legacy. Candidate Trump was harsh in his criticism, noting the failures of his brother and attempted to make Jeb own his brother’s legacy over his failure to disavow it. In the end, Bush fell flat failing to even inspire people to clap for him. On the other hand, Trump became President of the United States of America denigrating Bush, Clinton and other establishment regime politicians.
But now as President, Donald Trump appears set to betray his own rhetoric and adopt the policies of his predecessors. Despite his past rhetoric about Afghanistan and the continued military presence in the Middle East, Trump has become yet another in a long line of war presidents in modern United States history.