In February, the United States signed an agreement to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
For those who served in Afghanistan and other countries as part of the Global War on Terror, this move was long overdue.
In a recent op-ed, Concerned Veterans for America Executive Director Nate Anderson discussed what our nation’s engagement with other countries should look like and why now is the time to leave Afghanistan.
We must deal with the world as it is, not how cable news pundits spin it. As part of that outlook, the primary duties of U.S. foreign policy should be to defend America and advance our interests. The current nation-building mission in Afghanistan falls far outside that scope and distracts from more pressing national security priorities.
America’s best and brightest have served valiantly in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere over the past two decades. Many have given the ultimate sacrifice. As a veteran, I firmly believe this sacrifice is best honored by making the right decision for our national interest. That means leaving Afghanistan.
Nearly 20 years of constant engagement in Afghanistan have taken their toll on America’s warriors and their families. Anderson continued:
While our military has fought courageously, warfighters can only take so much. Creeping toward our 20th year of war, the U.S. military community has carried a heavy burden, and signs point to the reality that it is losing patience with the status quo.
Signs of combat burnout began long ago but have not been taken seriously. Military recruitment has often faced challenges following 9/11, contributing to a manning crisis that inhibits military effectiveness. Polling shows that veterans and the general public no longer believe our current conflicts are worth fighting. None of this is surprising when we consider our service members have voluntarily risked their lives in the same combat zones over and over again.
To honor the sacrifice of American troops, our leaders must ensure service members are only risking their lives when vital interests are at stake. Ending our involvement in Afghanistan puts us on a better path towards a more responsible foreign policy.
Read the rest of Nate Anderson’s op-ed in the Star Tribune.