“It’s important to know when to declare victory and leave a war,” Paul (R-Ky.) said in a video announcing the American Forces Going Home After Noble Service (AFGHANS) Act, adding, “I think that time has long passed.”
“Soon, US service members will begin deploying to Afghanistan to fight in a war that began before they were born,” Udall (D-N.Mex.) said in a statement issued alongside the bill, pointing out that al-Qaeda – the stated target of the invasion way back in 2001 – is practically nonexistent in Afghanistan nearly two decades later, and Osama bin Laden is long dead.
Perhaps recalling the president’s flip-flopping on withdrawal from Syria, the AFGHANS bill acts fast, setting a one-year deadline for complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan with plans for a handover to the Afghan government to be drawn up within 45 days of passage. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force – the document which has been stretched a little further with every country the US invades under the auspices of the “War on Terror” – would be repealed at the conclusion of the pullout.
The bill sets aside $7 billion for bonuses to the war’s veterans – which sounds like a lot until it is compared with the $51 billion yearly cost of actually fighting the war. Paul listed a few of the more ridiculous “nation-building” projects the US has funded since getting bored with fighting the Taliban, including a luxury hotel in Kabul, a natural gas station for a nation where hardly any cars run on natural gas, and an electrification project for land under Taliban control.
The AFGHANS Act also declares victory in Afghanistan – something American generals have freely admitted is impossible with the Taliban controlling over half the districts in the country, and which even President Donald Trump seems to acknowledge is a lost cause, judging by reports his administration is considering halving troop levels within the next few months and even pulling out completely in three to five years. Veterans are even more pessimistic about the possibility of victory than the general population, according to a recent poll, which found nearly three-quarters believing the war in Afghanistan has been a disaster for the US.
All Paul’s Twitter followers could think about, however, was the senator’s refusal to back Trump on his border emergency declaration.