House Using Shaky Russian Bounty Story To Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday night to put roadblocks on President Donald Trump’s vow to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, apparently in response to bombshell report published by The New York Times Friday that alleges Russia paid dollar bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill U.S troops.
Despite at least three serious flaws with that reporting, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment was approved 45-11.
The Crow amendment would block funding if the U.S. draws down below 8,000 troops and again below 4,000 troops “unless the administration certifies that doing so would not compromise the U.S. counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan, not increase risk for U.S. personnel there, be done in consultation with allies, and is in the best interest of the United States,” reports The Hill. “It would also require an analysis on the effects of a drawdown on the threat from the Taliban, the status of human and civil rights, an inclusive Afghan peace process, the capacity of Afghan forces and the effect of malign actors on Afghan sovereignty.”
Rep. Jason Crow’s (D-Colo.) NDAA amendment will require several certifications, including an assessment of whether any “state actors have provided any incentives to the Taliban, their affiliates, or other foreign terrorist organizations for attacks against United States, coalition, or Afghan security forces or civilians in Afghanistan in the last two years, including the details of any attacks believed to have been connected with such incentives.”
The amendment “lays out, in a very responsible level of specificity, what is going to be required if we are going to in fact make decisions about troop levels based on conditions on the ground and based on what’s required for our own security, not based on political timelines,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.-R.), the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
“And that is crucially important, and I think it is our number one priority,” added Cheney, who is now the number three Republican in the House.
The U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan is down to 8,600 troops. Trump is said to be eager to deliver on his campaign promise and further draw down the U.S. presence after the 19-year war in Afghanistan.
“A great nation does not force the next generation to fight their wars, and that’s what we’ve done in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.) “I think the best day to have not had the war in Afghanistan was when we started it, and the next best day is tomorrow. I don’t think there’s ever a bad day to end the war in Afghanistan. Our generation is weary of this and tired of this.”
Crow’s amendment adds several layers of policy goals to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, which has already stretched on for 19 years and cost over a trillion dollars. As made clear in the Afghanistan Papers, most of these policy goals were never the original intention of the mission in Afghanistan, and were haphazardly added after the defeat of al Qaeda. With no clear vision for what achieving these fuzzy goals would look like, the mission stretches on indefinitely, an unarticulated victory unachievable.