As we reflect on Trump’s renewed commitment to the war in Afghanistan, it’s worth remembering that in many ways it’s not only America’s longest conflict, it’s also our most democratic war. We launched it at a time of historic national consensus, Congress explicitly and overwhelmingly authorized the use of force, it’s now been pursued through parts of three presidential administrations – two Republican and one Democrat – and each and every step of the way it’s been fought with an all-volunteer force.
That last point is, I think, significantly under-appreciated. In a post lamenting Trump’s decision to reinforce Afghanistan, my friend Rod Dreher refers back to the failed effort in Vietnam and the disappointments of the Iraq War, and says this:
“We have lived through Vietnam. We have lived through the debacle of Iraq. And yet — and yet! — we will allow Washington to send thousands more American soldiers to fight and die in a war we cannot win.”