At the end of George Washington's second term as President, in his 1796 farewell address to a grateful nation, Washington urged America to avoid foreign entanglements. This is what he said:
"Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
"Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel .
"Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?
"It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them."
In Washington's time, our "foreign entanglements' were with Europe; today, they are worldwide. We still are suffering from our "foreign entanglement" in Afghanistan. Now in its twelfth year, that entanglement is the longest since Washington warned us against them.
Following the 9/11 attacks, we defeated an entrenched hostile military force in Afghanistan, playing defense, with fewer than 1000 U.S. Special Forces troops. We did so in barely a month. The battle was over, and the war was won Then our hubris-ridden military-industrial complex, led by a bellicose President who had gone AWOL himself from May 1972 to October 1973 and spent his entire presidency trying to make up for it, occupied that 12th-century nation with between 10,000 and 35,000 troops. Under President Obama, our occupying army then multiplied, to 100,000 soldiers.
Recently, President Obama announced a policy to "end the war" in Afghanistan by maintaining something like 9999 American troops there, for a long time to come. That's the same number of American soldiers who occupied Afghanistan in the first place.
If you think that stationing just under 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan means that the war is over, then Big Brother has a few words for you: "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength."
President Obama is my President, he is the leader of my party, and I voted for him twice. But on this issue, President Obama is wrong. Dead wrong. As I said recently on Thom Hartmann's national TV show, it's time to put an end to the war in Afghanistan, and bring our troops home:
Thom Hartmann: The House unanimously passed your Afghanistan election resolution. Can you tell us about that?
Rep. Alan Grayson: Sure. We are approaching the point now where Afghanistan is starting to function like a normal country. A lot of blood has been shed, and a lot of taxpayer dollars spent, in the interim. In my opinion, the war in Afghanistan should have been over a long time ago. I'm sure many Americans agree with that. If you combine the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, we have a quarter of a million servicemen who now have permanent brain abnormalities as a result of these two efforts on our part. Plus, a Nobel Prize-winning economist puts a price tag of four [tr]illion dollars on these wars, which is roughly five percent of our national net worth. . . . These wars have been very unfortunate. The fact that there was a free election in Afghanistan, which is leading to what appears to be a voluntary transfer of power from one leader to another, is encouraging. But frankly, in my opinion, enough is enough. We should leave Afghanistan and make sure that the Afghan people take control of their own fate, rather than occupy that country for another decade.
Thom: Do you have any thoughts on what's happening in Iraq today? We were talking with David Ignatius earlier from the Washington Post on this program about Mosul falling and Fallujah already gone, the possibility of Iran getting involved -- [what are] your thoughts on that?
Alan: It demonstrates the complete failure of the Bush administration, and the waste of four trillion dollars. That expense was supposed to guarantee that what is happening today would never happen. Obviously it was a failure. The idea that we can somehow radically transform a country's history, and its arc through time, simply by sending over a hundred thousand troops to occupy it is false. We need to understand our limitations, and avoid another wasteful intervention like the one that we saw in Iraq and the one that we're still seeing in Afghanistan.
America is the most powerful nation on Earth, and the most powerful nation that the world has ever known. We are so powerful that many of our greatest problems are the ones that we create ourselves. There was no reason to occupy Afghanistan after the Taliban were defeated. There is no reason to remain there. Let's bring all the troops home.
In George Washington's words, let's choose peace.
Rep. Alan Grayson
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