DARLING: Mission Accomplished — Trump Should Keep His Promise To Leave Iraq, Afghanistan

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Brian Darling Liberty Government Affairs
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Now that the Trump administration has neutralized Iran’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani, it is time to have a national debate on the lack of any discernible purpose in Iraq and to get out. These same arguments apply to the lack of any mission in Afghanistan.

Trump’s rhetoric on war has been spot-on. He is one of the few politicians who has consistently opposed the “America last” foreign policy pushed by both Republican and Democratic politicians. Trump rightly criticized President George W. Bush for the folly of Iraq, and President Barack Obama for his mistakes in Libya and Syria. Trump’s action should match his great rhetoric.

The mission of defeating the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq has been accomplished. There is no need to allow Iran to continue to use our troops as target practice in Iraq. President Trump made the case in his Jan. 8 speech to the nation. He stated: “After destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, who is responsible for so much death, including the mass beheadings of Christians, Muslims, and all who stood in his way.”

If this administration has completely destroyed ISIS and eliminated a number of the leaders of terrorist organizations, it’s time to spike the football and get out.

A year ago, the president talked about great nations not fighting endless wars. He said in his 2019 State of the Union that in Afghanistan and Iraq, “nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives,” with more than 52,000 severely wounded and $7 trillion spent in the Middle East. Trump was correct when he concluded that “great nations do not fight endless wars.” It begs the question of why we are still fighting two endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The only people in all of America that support keeping our troops in harm’s way reside inside the Washington D.C. Swamp, and they work in government. While Democrats and Republicans in America debate the merits of impeachment, there is bipartisan agreement that we need to end the endless wars. Most conservatives supported the strike on Soleimani while most progressives opposed the attack, yet both share the goal of getting our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a lame briefing by the Trump administration on the decision to kill an Iranian general, Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Mike Lee (Utah) announced support for a resolution limiting the president’s authority to attack Iran. The introduction of this measure provided bipartisan support for an effort to limit the power of President Trump to start a new war. Congress’ exercise of this power in this area is consistent with Article I, Sec. 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution granting Congress the power “to declare war.” If the president wants to engage in a new war with Iran, he needs to get the consent of Congress.

The Trump administration has fallen into the same trap that prior administrations have on using notification to substitute for the consent of Congress using the War Powers Act. The Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations have relied on congressional briefings to check the box of telling Congress under the Act that grants a president 48 hours to notify Congress after military action. Consultation under the Act is no substitute for the consent, which is required under the Constitution.

While Republicans hammered the Obama administration for relying on old authorizations for the use of force (AUMF) to justify intervention in Libya and Syria, the Trump administration seems to be doing the same. Paul relayed that at the briefing on the Soleimani strike, Trump officials explained they would rely on a 2002 AUMF to justify potential future military actions against Iran. That is absurd. No rational person would use a 2002 consent from Congress to justify taking action against Iran in 2020.

Trump has been a promise-keeper in other policy areas. He also promised to end the endless wars in the Middle East. To that end, he should stop surrounding himself with staffers who disagree with his foreign-policy promises. Soleimani’s death has presented him with an excellent opportunity to declare victory and get our troops out of both Afghanistan and Iraq. He has already put the Iranian regime on notice that if they attack us, they will have a war that they will not win.

Brian Darling is a former senior communications director and counsel for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and founder of the D.C. based firm Liberty Government Affairs.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.