In 2003, my son Alex was just two-years-old, but I was already thinking about the possibility of him being sent to fight in the Middle East in a never-ending War on Terror. That prospect still scares me to death nearly 17 years later.
When U.S. intelligence determined that the Taliban-controlled government of Afghanistan had been harboring Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network, the monsters responsible for the September 11th terror attacks, I was not opposed to ending the Taliban’s reign of terror.
Less than two years later, President Bush took his eye off the ball when he decided to declare war against Iraq, dividing our military between two theaters. I feared that this might make America’s presence in the region permanent, jeopardizing my son’s future, and the future of the United States.
After finding no weapons of mass destruction, American forces eventually withdrew from Iraq under President Obama. However, the fighting and loss of life continues in Afghanistan. The Taliban controls large areas of the country and continues to launch terrorist attacks against Afghan government forces, American troops, and innocent civilians.
Inexplicably, President Donald Trump secretly invited Taliban representatives to Camp David around the same time as the 18th anniversary of 9/11 to discuss an American withdrawal from Afghanistan. That plan was scrapped following a Taliban attack in Kabul that killed civilians and an American service member.
Can you imagine the headlines over at Fox News, had the previous president done the same thing? “BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA INVITES TERRORISTS TO CAMP DAVID ON 9/11 ANNIVERSARY TO DISCUSS THE TERMS OF AMERICAS WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN”. The “birthers” would have rioted in the streets. Yet when Donald Trump made such a move, the far right remained eerily quiet.
Barely a week later, a Saudi oil refinery, the largest of its kind in the world, fell victim to a drone attack. Yemeni rebels claimed responsibility, yet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran, saying there is “no evidence the attack came from Yemen.”
President Trump later tweeted that the U.S. is “locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
To be clear, the president of the United States just stated that we would wait to hear from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the terms of how America should respond to this attack. Now imagine the Fox News headlines and the backlash Obama would have received for making such a statement: “OBAMA AWAITS SAUDI KING’S ORDERS ON HOW TO PROCEED WITH MILITARY STRIKE AGAINST IRAN.”
Donald Trump is on the verge of plunging the United States into yet another war in the Middle East. With the turmoil in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, and now Saudi Arabia and Iran, it seems that my fears from 2003 were justified. America’s presence in the Middle East may indeed be permanent. If so, my son, and many others like him may be forced to fight in this never-ending war.
Please, Mr. President, show some restraint. The United States is not obligated to wage war on behalf of Saudi Arabia or any other country. We have always acted at our own discretion when it comes to protecting vulnerable democracies throughout the world, but Saudi Arabia is neither vulnerable, nor is it a democracy.
If your new campaign slogan, “Keep America Great,” means that you intend to keep negotiating with Taliban terrorists while you keep clamoring to start new wars, then your definition of greatness is radically different from mine.
Just to review, Mr. President, George W. Bush declared war against Iraq based on the false claim that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction. His focus on Iraq detracted from his efforts to chase down Osama Bin Laden. Barack Obama ended the war with Iraq and oversaw the killing of Bin Laden. And now you, Donald Trump, invited Bin Laden’s friends the Taliban to visit you at Camp David while Americans were marking the 18th anniversary of 9/11. Then you publicly stated that you will await Saudi Arabia’s terms on how the United States should proceed in a show of force against Iran.
Mr. Trump, I think you should revert to your 2016 campaign slogan, but with one slight tweak: “Make America Great Again; Elect a Democrat in 2020.”