In the House: More money for foreign militaries

· May 8, 2018  
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Afghan soldier
Franz J. Marty/SOPA Images | Getty Images

Another $69 billion is about to be authorized for yet another year (FY 2019) of aimless operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, with much of the funding going to foreign fighters who don’t serve our interests. And nobody is asking questions.

Once again, the House is marking up the annual defense authorization bill (NDAA) for the new fiscal year, but it is focusing solely on spending figures, not policies. It’s called an authorization bill for a reason. Before appropriating the funds, Congress is supposed to debate the entire premise of the military’s core missions, what our key threats are in the world, where our priorities should lie, who our real allies are, and where our military and tools of statecraft should be focused. None of those questions will be answered in this year’s NDAA, as Congress continues to unquestioningly double down on dumb policies.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, released the text of the NDAA on Monday and promised that it achieves the goal to “support and strengthen our most valuable asset, which is America’s troops.” But how can we support our military if we don’t even assess … you know, at least once every 17 years … what exactly we are doing with our military and on whose behalf they are fighting.

Isn’t it time to ponder our backward, hypocritical, and often random foreign policy?

We are continuing to ignore the military and security threats of Hezbollah and Iran in the Western Hemisphere while funding Hezbollah in Lebanon.

We continue to send troops to fight the Houthis, an Iranian proxy in Yemen that doesn’t affect us and is locked in a civil war with al Qaeda, yet we won’t address the proxy that is definitely working with the drug cartels and operating on our shores – Hezbollah.

We continue to fund a military in Afghanistan when there is no understanding of what we are doing there. After hundreds of billions of dollars flushed down the Afghan sewer, the Afghan military is more worthless than ever before.

We continue to referee a Sunni-Shia civil war in Iraq, while supporting the Iranian-backed government in Baghdad and cleaning out the last remaining vestiges of the current Sunni insurgency in Syria on behalf of Assad – while also fighting Assad!

We continue to support the Kurds with weapons but then sell them down the river to Turkey and Baghdad.

In other words, shouldn’t the NDAA be a platform to actually debate a holistic and coherent America-first strategy before we just throw money at our military (and other militaries, including those of enemy entities)?

It says a lot that the Chairman Thornberry opposes any move by President Trump to pull out of the Iran deal. Yet this is the guy writing our defense bill.

Here are some core problems with the bill:

  • The draft bill would authorize another $5.6 billion for the Afghan army and police, including the use of MRAP vehicles, which we are assured will never fall into enemy hands. Headed into the 17th year in Afghanistan, despite the “new tactics,” the Afghan military, which is full of pedophiles, is failing miserably. According to a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), despite a $78 billion investment, enlistment in the Afghan military plummeted, while suicide attacks skyrocketed last year. Sectarian attacks tripled in 2017, and “the overall trend for the insurgency is rising control over the population,” despite more offensive actions taken against the Taliban in 2017 than in the previous three years. We have nothing to show for it but higher casualties.
  • The bill calls for $1.4 billion in “train and equip” funding for “counter-ISIS” operations when ISIS is on its last legs in Syria and actually, ironically, serves as a check on Iranian power. While some of the funding would go to our Kurdish allies, what we are doing to them with our Baghdad and Turkey policies countradicts the entire purpose of those programs. The bill continues funding the Baghdad government, noting that some weapons have “fallen outside of the control” of Baghdad and “urges” the Pentagon to “evaluate its current safeguards to ensure the equipment is properly stored.” Well, there is no way to safeguard weapons from falling into the hands of the Iranian Quds Force when they are essentially conducting the operations on behalf of the Baghdad government.
  • The bill provides $700 million for Pakistan after Trump promised to cut off aid.
  • Of course, there is nothing in the bill about ending our aid to the “Lebanese Armed Forces.” If there was any doubt that Hezbollah controls Lebanon on behalf of Iran, the elections held earlier this week should clear up that ambiguity.

The mark-up of the bill will take place during a marathon session of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

There are so many other important policies governing the core values and combat-readiness of the military – over and beyond spending figures – that will be ignored by both parties. We now have courts demanding that Trump cater to transgenderism in the military. We have religious liberty problems. There is the social engineering of promoting women in infantry at all costs and reducing standards. Will any of these issues be raised by the Republicans on the committee?

We were told earlier this year that we had to bite the bullet on the omnibus bill because the military absolutely needed the new funding. Well, they got the funding. Isn’t it high time to discuss the actual purpose of our military and the nature of the threats we must combat? Money is important, but it’s not everything.


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.