Afghanistan mission not working
Sunday, August 19, 2018
I would like to thank the writers of the Aug. 14 Orange County Register editorial, “Engaging the Taliban could end war in Afghanistan.” It lays out clearly why, after 17 years, our approach in Afghanistan is not working.
Not long ago, President Trump agreed. In 2013 he tweeted, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.” I couldn’t agree more. But last August, he announced a new strategy for the war, committing more troops to the region. One year later, the results have not changed. If anything, they are worse. As Caitlin Forrest from the Institute for the Study of War told The New York Times, “The Afghanistan war is almost old enough to vote, and we have more groups that want to launch attacks against the U.S. operating there than we did when we started.”
From Alexander the Great, to the British Empire, to the Soviet Union, history has proven that Afghanistan is the “Graveyard of Empires.” We ignore those lessons at our peril. At the request of myself and two congressional colleagues, last month America’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction found that 29 percent of $52 billion in American tax dollars spent to rebuild Afghanistan has been lost to waste, fraud and abuse. They also confirmed that the total amount of American money wasted in Afghanistan is much higher. Yet Congress and the administration continue to pour billions of your hard-earned dollars down the Afghan rat hole.
The president is right to instruct our diplomats to engage the Taliban in direct talks. As the editorial points out, “That’s a welcome and important step toward ending the wasteful war in Afghanistan.” Ultimately, all parties — the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the Afghan people — must be part of the dialogue to forge the future of their own country.
U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones
Jones represents the Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.