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Veterans Urge Trump To Stick To His Guns: ‘Great Nations Don’t Fight Endless Wars’

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Virginia Kruta Associate Editor

As tensions rise between the U.S. and Iran, veterans are urging President Donald Trump to live by his State of the Union applause line: “Great nations don’t fight endless wars.”

But reports of assets moving into the region and non-essential personnel being evacuated from key areas have led to increased concern that posturing — on both sides — could eventually lead to armed conflict.

Dan Caldwell, Senior Advisor of Concerned Veterans for America, told The Daily Caller he hopes to see the president stand by his statement about “endless wars.”

“I have no way to know what’s said in closed-door meetings,” Caldwell noted. “I can only rely on the press and what’s happened in the past. For example, it’s not out of the ordinary to have theses battle groups and assets rotate into the region — but recent rhetoric and evacuations can change the picture.” (RELATED: John Bolton’s Urgent-Sounding Iran Statement Was All For A ‘Routinely Scheduled Deployment’)

In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, Logistics Specialist 1st Class Ousseinou Kaba (left), from Silver Spring, Md., and Logistics Specialist Seaman Abigail Marshke, from Flint, Mich., attach cargo to an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the "Nightdippers" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) May 10, 2019 in the Red Sea. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amber Smalley/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

Logistics Specialist 1st Class Ousseinou Kaba (left), from Silver Spring, Md., and Logistics Specialist Seaman Abigail Marshke, from Flint, Mich., attach cargo to an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amber Smalley/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

With regard to Iran, Caldwell said that he hopes to see the administration learn from similar situations in the past. “American involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria hasn’t made America safer,” he explained. “Especially Iraq, which I would say actually made us less safe, made allies in the region less safe and led to further destabilization of the region. We don’t want to make that same mistake again.”
American involvement in Iraq, he said, had likely helped to “empower Iran and unleash the wave of Islamic radicalism that spurred the Syrian civil war and made the Arab Spring worse.”

Still, Caldwell says he believes Trump’s instincts are good and would lead America to a foreign policy of less intervention. “It’s very clear to me that the president is wary of conflict, of getting more involved in the Middle East,” he said. “Instinctively he doesn’t want us involved in more endless wars.”

Whether or not others within the administration — particularly the traditionally hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton — fall in line with the president’s desire to avoid endless wars is something of a question mark, and reports by the Center for the National Interest and Politico indicate his days in the White House may be numbered.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton (L) listens as US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018. - President Donald Trump arrived in Iraq on his first visit to US troops deployed in a war zone since his election two years ago. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

US National Security Adviser John Bolton (L) listens as US President Donald Trump speaks to members of the US military during an unannounced trip to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on December 26, 2018. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“I think at times Bolton may have advocated in the past for a different foreign policy than the president,” Caldwell noted. “And it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have people in the administration who don’t agree. It becomes a bad thing if they’re impeding the president’s goal to achieve a more restrained foreign policy,

“He only wants to use force when it’s necessary,” Caldwell concluded. “He can be very aggressive in his rhetoric, but when he lays out his foreign policy vision it appears to be more restrained than maybe any president since the end of the Cold War.”

A Military Times poll in February found that 57% of the veterans surveyed viewed Iran as a small or moderate threat.

Another recent poll commissioned by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA)  indicated that the veterans community as a whole is leaning toward a much less aggressive and interventionist foreign policy.

The poll surveyed 1600 veterans and military families nationwide on a number of topics and, as Caldwell noted, “Veterans and military families have borne the brunt of America’s endless wars and after nearly two decades of fighting, there is clear support among both groups for a new approach to American foreign policy.”

According to the poll:

  • Very few Veterans (6%) and Military Households (13%) support the United States being more military engaged in conflicts around the world. In fact, a plurality (48%) of Veterans think the U.S. should be less engaged.
  • A strong majority (60%) of both groups would support the President’s decision to remove all troops from Afghanistan; less than one-third of both groups (32% – Veterans, 30% – Military Households) would oppose his decision.

The veterans and military families surveyed also indicated less support for increases in military spending (only 32% of veterans and 31% of military families) and a growing number (76% of veterans and 71% of military families) said that they view the nation’s debt as a national security issue.

Marine veteran and regular Fox News contributor Johnny Jones also spoke to The Caller about the possibility of another conflict in the Middle East. He also mentioned the human cost of the invasion of Iraq and raised concerns about the threshold for military action.

Gulf War veteran John Schoon visits the gravesite of U.S.M.C. Sgt Christopher Hrbek one day before Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery November 10, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. Veterans Day, observed on November 11, honors all members of the U.S. military who served in the United States Armed Forces. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Gulf War veteran John Schoon visits the gravesite of U.S.M.C. Sgt Christopher Hrbek one day before Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery November 10, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. Win McNamee/Getty Images

“My consistent opinion is that if we learn nothing else from the invasion in Iraq it’s that as American people we allow our government too much credibility without substantial evidence to send our young men and women to war,” Jones began. “I, like thousands of others, lost limbs — and thousands more lost their lives. The only thing this country could do to honor those sacrifices is demand answers and specificity from those who would send our next generation to war.”

Jones made it clear that he wasn’t saying military action in Iran wasn’t possibly warranted — only that those making the final decision should be held accountable. “That’s not to say Iran isn’t a bad actor or that we should not at some point use our military to defend ourselves and our interest,” he explained. “But with this specific situation, there are too many factors where we need to ask questions. This is also a great example of why it’s so important that we regain faith in our media and press as they are in the best position to ask questions on behalf of the American people.”

“This shows the true repercussions of a country so divided that objectively questioning our government seems almost impossible — now even sending our kids to war has become team politics,” Jones concluded.

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