I doubt President Donald trump has ever read George Santayana, but he should. One of the philosopher’s famous quotes is "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Neither the president nor any of his advisors seem to have learned anything from America’s first incursion into Afghanistan some 30 years ago.

The time to debate sending troops into war zones is before the boots hit the ground or very, very expensive drones make missiles explode. Congress should debate declaring war. It does not. Instead, congressional committees, the CIA and/or the White House make those decisions in secret.

Skeptics should read George Crile's book Charlie Wilson’s War for more. Do not watch the movie, it is awful and the book has much more detail.

Real world

The book explains how Wilson, a Texas Democrat, used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to funnel millions of dollars to Afghani rebels, known as the Mujahideen, to defeat the Soviets in the 1980s. Wilson attempted to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan after the battles, but the Reagan administration was not interested.

“Instead of intensifying our diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to help the Afghans meet their postwar challenges, we simply walked away—leaving a destroyed country that lacked roads, schools, and any plan or hope for rebuilding,” Wilson wrote in the Washington Post in 2008, 12 years after leaving Congress.

“The lesson here is about more than the good manners of reciprocating a favor,” he continued. “It takes much more to make America safe than winning on the battlefield. Had we remained engaged in Afghanistan, investing in education, health, and economic development, the world would be a very different place today.

The aftermath of a congressional committee's decision, so long ago, has turned out to be a warning that America is not immune to the problems of the very poorest countries.”

Learn from mistakes

Some look at the arming of the Mujahedeen—then abandoning the fighting force after it defeated the Soviets—as the beginning of today’s international Islamic terrorism.

The Mujahideen were supported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. The Pakistan intelligence agency created the Taliban with U.S. funds. The CIA passed ammunition to the Mujahideen through the Taliban. However, the CIA did not account for all of the ammunition.

Trump told a crowd this week he would withdraw troops from Syria “very soon” since ISIS is nearly defeated. Two months ago the United States promised a military presence to a U.S.-led force in Syria. If anyone ever earned U.S.-support, it is the Kurds, who would be a part of that military presence.

Air attacks are nothing without infantry to do the dirty work. The Kurds, those Trump wants to desert (this week), are the grunts who did the dirty work going building-to-building to rid Syria and Iraq of ISIS in places like Kobani, Manjib, Raqqa, Kirkuk, and Mosul.

The Kurds also closed a Syrian/Turk bordertown, Tel Abyad, which Turkey used to supply ISIS fighters in Raqqa.

Fry some Turkey

Turkish President Recep Erdagon moves further from NATO and religious liberty every day. Erdagon ordered his goons to attack peaceful protestors in Washington, D.C. in May of 2017. They got away with it under diplomatic immunity.

Erdagon hired former ISIS fighters as mercenaries to invade Syria and attack Kurds. Ankara has threatened both France and the United States if they continue to support the Kurds and keep troops in Syria. Erdagon is pushing Islamic nationalism in his country.

The Turks are moving closer to Iran and Russia for regional control. That means they are moving closer to confrontations with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Trump already created an uproar when he announced he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Unless he is willing to abandon Israel and the Saudis when the shooting starts, Trump should increase support to the Kurds, including fighting the Turks, reassign some Afghan troops to northern Syria and close shop in Afghanistan.

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