Throughout 2016, President Donald Trump campaigned to end the “never-ending” wars in the Middle East.
Fast forward to 2020, and there’s been tepid progress on scaling back conflicts like the Afghan war. One positive sign was the deal that the Taliban reached with the U.S. government on February 29, 2020. Under this deal, the U.S would begin withdrawing troops on the condition that the Taliban would no longer let Afghanistan become a safe haven for terrorists. So, this deal is a good start. But this would have never happened without certain people in the media like commentator Tucker Carlson, grassroots activists, and state politicians putting pressure on Trump to follow through with his promise.
One politician who stood out in making Trump live up to his promise was Idaho Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin. The lieutenant governor was championing “Defend the Guard” legislation, which requires that Idaho’s guard personnel cannot be activated for combat duty overseas unless Congress issues a formal war declaration. Similar legislation has been pursued in states like Oklahoma, where State Senator Nathan Dahm introduced a bill that would keep the state guard from serving in unconstitutional foreign conflicts. McGeachin drew from the Founding Fathers such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin — who were all skeptics of indiscriminate military action — to justify her efforts to bring some sanity into foreign policy.
She called attention to America’s decades of undeclared wars and global democratic crusades based on dubious constitutional and political premises. The war in Afghanistan has cost the U.S. thousands of soldiers’ lives and $1 trillion in nearly two decades of occupation. When factoring in other costs related to the Iraq War and the overarching “War on Terror”, the U.S. has spent over $6 trillion. Undoubtedly, America’s blood and treasure are being drained in these nation-building programs.
McGeachin appealed to the Constitution by noting that Section 8 of the document states that only “Congress shall have the power to declare war.” That stipulation has largely been ignored during the last 70 years. The last time a formal war declaration was made was during World War II.
Foreign policy is a delicate subject. There are those who believe it’s America’s duty to police the world. This author, on the other hand, believes in a restrained foreign policy that is in line with the Founder’s vision. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, there is one undeniable truth: American taxpayers can no longer afford to finance the U.S.’s robust foreign policy. With trillions spent in our present foreign policy engagements and the U.S. debt at $23 trillion, America is reaching a point of no return for its fiscal profligacy. Should the American government’s negligent spending continue, successive generations will be left with massive tax burdens?
Since the federal government is dragging its feet, state elected officials like McGeachin will have to lead the charge and make sure the president lives up to his word.