President Trump’s announcement of a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan on Monday brought about a wide variety of responses. Many hoped that the President’s “America First” mindset would lead him to withdraw U.S. forces from the nation’s longest war, while some others lamented the idea of yet another troop surge… but President Trump’s announcement was particularly disappointing for one man in particular: Erik Prince.
Over the past few months, Prince has been actively peddling his private contractor-wares to high-ranking officials in Trump’s cabinet and multiple news outlets. He penned an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal explaining his own strategy for Afghanistan – one that involves sending 5,500 contractors, sometimes referred to as mercenaries, to supplement Afghan security forces, rather than U.S. troops. Further, it hoped to establish a private air force in the nation, to serve as a supplement for Afghan air power in the absence of U.S. air support. Prince, undoubtedly, would oversee operations in the country, but his plan also called for the appointment of an American “viceroy,” which, aside from sounding a bit like a rank appointed to senior members of the Empire in Star Wars, would also have the authority to manage American interests via the contractor force.
I’ve been active there as a government vendor since early 2002, and I’ve seen this thing drag on endlessly,” Prince said in an interview on the conservative outlet Breitbart. “We’re now approaching a trillion dollars in spending that the U.S. Defense Department has consumed in Afghanistan. We have another trillion dollars in healthcare costs yet to be expended to all the wounded and damaged veterans that have gone there. And we’re losing.”
To be fair to Prince, the founder of the controversial private contracting firm Blackwater, the war in Afghanistan has turned into an extremely expensive quagmire, with many Americans growing frustrated with the prolonged expense, both in terms of money and human lives, the effort has amassed. Prince’s answer to the messy questions of how does one find victory in a war Netflix crafted a (somewhat) fictional movie decrying as unwinnable, came in the form of PowerPoint presentation.