Issues Under Fire: Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Budget and Why Neither Is Being Debated
While most are focused on immigration, the Russia investigation, and the economy, few are paying attention to the fact that the United States is still actively engaged in Afghanistan. Why is this important? It’s important because the United States has been actively engaged in Afghanistan for almost 20 years. It’s important because, after nearly 20 years of fighting, thousands of U.S. casualties and hundreds of billions spent, stolen and wasted, the world’s most powerful military is as far away from claiming victory as it ever was. The Taliban is winning and we need to know why.
News reports of Taliban bombings and attacks, killing hundreds of civilians, as well as police and military personnel, have become so commonplace, they no longer make the front page. In less than a week’s time, the Taliban has carried out terror attacks targeting the Intercontinental Hotel, killing 4 Americans and a massive bombing in Kabul, with dead and wounded numbering in the hundreds. And if we dial back the timeline, it’ll reflect a persistent uptick in violent resistance by the Taliban, aka the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. But why and why now? 
According to Reuters’ reporting, the Taliban said their attack was intended as a message to U.S. President Donald Trump who last year sent more American troops to Afghanistan and ordered an increase in air strikes and other assistance to Afghan forces. “The Islamic Emirate has a clear message for Trump and his hand kissers that if you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, don’t expect Afghans to grow flowers in response.” That statement came from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. 
Considering the Taliban have claimed responsibility for the deaths of at least 7000 Afghan security forces in the past year, their message should be crystal clear. GTFO of Afghanistan and stay out. As long as U.S. forces are present on Afghan soil, the Taliban will fight them, as well as anybody the U.S. supports. And since they clearly don’t respect or even acknowledge the legitimacy of the American backed Afghan government, it remains unclear how long the United States plans to stay in Afghanistan or why? Americans need to start asking the tough questions, so we’ll get you started.
Now that we have some idea what the Taliban wants, we need to know what the United States wants in Afghanistan going forward. Firstly, why is the United States still in this theater of war? After the killing of Osama bin Laden, many expected the U.S. to begin a sustained drawdown of forces until its military footprint was reduced to observe and advise status. But that didn’t happen. Not even close to it. So, what are the United States’ goals in Afghanistan? Does anybody know? What about the cost? How much is currently being spent to achieve America’s unstated goals in Afghanistan? But just as importantly, what do Americans need to see happen in Afghanistan in order to bring the war to a close? And can that war be brought to a close without it being won?
Bottom line: Over the next two weeks, Donald Trump, the GOP and the Democrats will lock horns like battling gladiators over the Dreamers and overall immigration reform. The fight will get ugly and fierce. There’ll be such a show of force on both sides of the aisle, by all accounts, the immigration issue could easily shut the government down again. But, while the immigration issue remains as hot as ever, no one seems to be interested in debating the more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars being requested for 2018 defense spending. Nobody! And considering what’s going on in Afghanistan, somebody should be asking, why not? Podcast below.