A North Carolina congressman reminded President Donald Trump of his previous opposition to the 16-year-old U.S. war in Afghanistan and urged Trump to allow Congress to debate any plan to send more troops to the nation.
Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville, whose district covers much of the northern and central North Carolina coast including Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, outlined his objections to another troop increase and to Congress not having a vote on the war in a July 18 letter he sent to the president.
“Many of us in the U.S. House of Representatives believe we have been denied our sacred duty to debate and declare war. You could say that I am disappointed by this. Disappointed because after 16 years in Afghanistan, Congress deserves another vote on this conflict,” Jones wrote in the letter. “Disappointed because almost $1 trillion of taxpayers’ money has been spent with no direct goal or strategy. And most importantly, I am disappointed because we continue to lose American lives.”
In the letter, Jones highlighted some of Trump’s previous tweets about the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Jones referenced a 2011 tweet in which Trump agreed with former Rep. Ron Paul that “we are wasting lives and money in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Jones also used Trump tweets from 2012 and 2013 that criticized the decision to remain in Afghanistan.
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“Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA,” Trump tweeted in 2013.
Jones said he agreed with Trump’s sentiments and worried that the president seems “to have had a change of heart on this issue.”
Jones, who has been in the House since 1995, voted for the war in Afghanistan, just days after the shocking Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York, Washington and Flight 93 killed more than 3,000. The attacks were organized and funded by Al-Qaeda, which enjoyed support from the Taliban in Afghanistan. The authorization passed 420-1.
Some in Congress, including Jones, want lawmakers to have another debate about the ongoing war. The House Appropriations Committee voted to include an amendment in the 2018 defense budget bill to end the 2001 authorization and debate a new reauthorization. The House Rules Committee stripped the amendment out of the appropriations bill before the House passed it.
“I believe you would see great benefit and wisdom in asking Congress to debate and vote on troop level increases as well. You would then have the American people and their elected officials share a decision to send more of our sons and daughters into harm’s way,” Jones wrote to Trump.
Though Jones did not call for Trump to end the war, he pointed out twice in the letter that trying to conquer Afghanistan is foolish.
“Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires! We do not want a tombstone to read ‘United States of America,’” Jones wrote in the final line of his letter.
Nearly 2,400 Americans have died in the war and more than 20,000 have been wounded.