In a most unusual and rather controversial proposal, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is urging the Trump administration and the military to declare victory in Afghanistan and to hand out cash bonuses to every Iraq and Afghanistan veteran.
More specifically, Senator Paul is arguing for a $2,500 one-time cash payout. He asserts that, although the cash bonus would amount to more than $7 billion total, in the long run it will be for the better given that it would allow for “an immediate savings of 83 percent when compared to the current yearly cost of nation building.”
Senator Paul, a politician with strong libertarian views, published his proposal in a video on his Facebook account. “It’s important to know when it’s time to declare victory and leave a war,” he said, “I think that time is long past. We don’t need to be wasting that $50 billion, and there is no doubt much of it is wasted,” he said. “When are they (the Afghanistan government) going to pay for their own stuff? Why does Uncle Sam have to be Uncle Sap and pay for everything?”
According to a recent study by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), the Department of Defense (DoD) has spent almost $6 trillion during the Global War on Terror (GWOT). They predict that number will increase to $6.7 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2023. It is estimated that the Pentagon spends more than $50 billion on a yearly basis to support its overseas operations. This number doesn’t include other initiatives such as State Department reconstruction aid or humanitarian assistance.
The U.S. military has about 16,000 troops in Afghanistan. They are mostly concerned with support, advising, and training duties. Senator Paul’s proposal comes at a time of intense diplomatic negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban.
“We are not seeking permanent bases in Afghanistan,” said Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. “Our vision long term is for an Afghanistan that is entirely sovereign, independent, and if they decide they don’t want to have foreign troops, we don’t want to stay where we’re not wanted—provided that there is no threat to our national security from Afghanistan.”
Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have resulted in the deaths of more than 6,800 U.S. service members and more than 7,000 contractors.
Senator Paul added that he will be introducing the appropriate legislation to Congress very soon. “It’s time to declare our mission over and the war won,” he emphasized. “It’s time to build here and not there.”