It is hard to remember just when it happened, but one day America woke up, and the Democrats became the party of war. Anyone who lived through the 1960s and ’70s – with the burning of draft cards and anti-war civil unrest – would consider this quite an about-face. Not all progressives have turned this drastic corner, but the Swampsters – those Democrats in power – have taken up the mantle of “War yesterday, war today, war forever.”
Donald J. Trump stunned the Grand Old Party leading up to the 2016 election with talk of withdrawal and concluding the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. Having staked out this unconventional Republican position, he still won the election. So how has he done in that regard and further, where does his likely opponent stand on the issue? This is not a superficial question to the thousands of Americans who have a family member serving in the military.
Time to Get Out
Eighteen years and God knows how many dead Americans later, Mr. Trump became the first president to hold talks with the Taliban. Writing for Rasmussen Reports, political opinion writer Ted Rall noted that the president, “… concluded a peace deal with the insurgency that leads to a total American withdrawal by April 2021 if the Taliban upholds its commitments. Now he is even considering an accelerated timetable that would bring back the last American soldier before Election Day.”
You would think this would make Democrats jump for joy. Instead, what is happening is rather insidious. A couple of Republicans, along with a group of neoconservative-style hawks from the Democratic Party, tucked a little gem into the National Defense Authorization Act. The measure would deny the president the money needed to bring home the last American troops unless it was certain that Afghanistan would never again become a haven for terrorists. That is tantamount to saying, in the New York lexicon, “fuggedaboutit.”
In his inimitable and unorthodox way, President Trump has also managed to bring North Korea to the table to avoid possible military conflicts with the U.S. It is not that Trump is a dove so much as he is a pragmatist. But given a choice, if talking will do the job, Mr. Trump prefers the diplomatic strategy over a military one.
The same cannot be said for Joe Biden. When the opportunity arose to invade Afghanistan, Mr. Biden voted yes. Bomb Serbia? Yes again. Invade Iraq? Well, you already know the answer to that one.
Whether Mr. Biden was complicit in President Obama’s failed plans in Libya and Syria is unclear. Speaking of vague, a Washington Post article outlined Biden’s foreign policy swing during the Obama years. It concluded that his foreign policy “is guided largely by impulse and feeling rather than abiding philosophy. And it reflects a decades-long career in which Biden has been all over the map on the biggest questions of war and peace.” To make matters worse, the Post averred, “[e]ven on Afghanistan, Biden had been maddeningly inconsistent, calling for more U.S. troops and money in 2008 only to abandon the position in 2009 when he moved from the Senate to the White House.”
If you are confused as to where Mr. Biden stands regarding ending America’s longest war, you are not alone. While he has weaved between hawk and dove over the years, he appears to hold no abiding or coherent philosophy on foreign intervention or military policy.
As for Mr. Trump, he is certainly no dove, as the bombing of Syria proves. Yet as demonstrated by his unwillingness to use American military forces to intervene in conflicts throughout the world, as well as the desire to bring home some 8,000 U.S. service personnel from Afghanistan demonstrates, he is undoubtedly no hawk, either.
It is a challenge to think about foreign affairs when so much is going on within America’s borders. However, the president of the United States becomes the de facto leader of the free world. He or she decides whether our children and grandchildren will perish in some Godforsaken land for no good reason. For that alone, it is worth assessing these two gentlemen and their propensity for putting America’s young people in harm’s way.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.