STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Now That Bolton’s Gone, Let’s Get Out of Afghanistan
By Natalie Dowzicky - September 12, 2019

On the eve of 9/11’s 18th anniversary, National Security Advisor and infamous war hawk John Bolton was asked to show himself to the White House door.

Trump took to Twitter to announce the news, prompting a sigh of relief from everyone completely uninterested in seeing America continue in our dirty habit of fighting endless wars. And now, with Bolton making a swift exit, there’s really no better time to bring our troops home.

John Bolton was America’s most formidable foe in the effort to end our longest war. He didn’t agree with Trump’s diplomatic effort toward the Taliban, making it clear that he wanted the U.S. military to maintain a strong presence overseas. On more than one occasion, he tried to derail talks between Trump and North Korea. For far too long, he’s been beating his war drum through Iraq and Afghanistan — eyes set on Iran.  In fact, his fiery temperament and inability to compromise caused his colleagues to keep him far away from any already-fragile peace talks regarding the war-torn country. One of Bolton’s trademark slip-ups or outbursts would easily cause the talks to be dead in the water. Indeed, no one will miss John Bolton’s annoying and dangerous presence on the world stage.

Bolton has not been shy about his view on Afghanistan. He has never seen quite eye-to-eye with those who are willing to try negotiating with the Taliban. Urging that the Taliban can never be trusted, he’s justified the U.S.’s digging in our heels — never completely leaving Afghanistan. He wasn’t opposed to nudging back the number of troops in the country to 8600, but he was not at all willing to consider a complete withdrawal. That could be why the peace agreement with the Taliban was reportedly leaked from his office — in an effort to undermine it entirely.

Even just a few days ago, Bolton thought that he’d claimed a victory when President Trump called off a secret meeting with the Taliban at the Camp David presidential retreat. The president had reportedly intended to solidify a path forward for withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, but the meeting, scheduled the week of 9/11, had sparked public outrage over its unfortunate timing. But that’s not why Bolton was pushing the meeting’s cancellation. To him, it was inching us ever-closer to the terrifying prospect of a peace deal.

Well, now that Trump doesn’t have to worry about a Bolton temper tantrum, he should aim to sign that deal as soon as he can.

An end is finally in sight for the war in Afghanistan and getting Bolton out of the way only inches us closer to peace. Many Americans don’t even understand why we are still fighting the war in Afghanistan. We went into Afghanistan nearly 18 years ago with cloudy objectives at best — to obliterate the terrorist group who killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. At the sound of Bolton’s rally cries, Washington then shifted the objective to a far more unrealistic and costly nation-building project.

Because it has dragged on far longer than it should have, 59% of adults now believe that the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting at all. And since taking office, President Trump has been skeptical about our military investment in Afghanistan. More recently he has prioritized withdrawing troops before the 2020 election. But talk is cheap, and the President needs to finally make good on his word.

For matters like this, hindsight is 20/20, but most of us seem to agree that our objectives in Afghanistan have long been muddy, at best. But there has been no greater obstacle to Trump’s foreign policy initiatives in this region than John Bolton. This is a huge opportunity for Trump to finally make good on his declaration that, “great nations do not fight endless wars.” Well, we’re a great nation, and the path forward is much clearer now.

For the rifts he was creating in the administration, it was a smart move to send John Bolton packing. Now, it’s time to finally let our troops in Afghanistan pack up too.

Natalie Dowzicky is a researcher a Washington D.C. think tank and a Young Voices contributor. Her work has appeared in the Washington Examiner, the American Conservative, the National Interest, Townhall.com, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Nat_Dowzicky.

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