Rand Paul

Sens. Rand Paul, Tom Udall Introduce Bill to End the War in Afghanistan

The AFGHAN Service Act would bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and repeal the legal justification for much of the war on terror.


Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Sens. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and Tom Udall (D–N.M.) announced this morning that they'd be introducing a bill to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and repeal the legal justification that has been used for numerous other conflicts in our long-running war on terror.

"We've accomplished our mission in Afghanistan and it's time to bring our troops home," said Paul to reporters this morning. "This has been a long war. We've spent over $2 trillion total. 2,300 have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and 20,000 [have been] wounded."

"It is Congress that has failed to conduct its oversight duty of this war. We must step in and step up. We must ensure that another generation of Americans is not sent to fight a perpetual war," added Udall.

The bipartisan American Forces Going Home After Noble Service Act—or AFGHAN Service Act—would require the Secretary of Defense, within 45 days of the bill's passage, to come up with a plan to pull all U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan within a year, save for a small number of troops guarding America embassies, consulates, or supporting "intelligence operations authorized by Congress."

The bill would also repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) either within 395 days of the bill's passage, or after all U.S. troops have left the country—whichever comes first.

The 2001 AUMF was passed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has been pointed to as the legal justification for numerous American military interventions including not just the one in Afghanistan, but also Iraq, Syria, Somalia, the Philippines, and Niger. Repealing that legislation could hamper the White House's ability to wage a number of our current overseas interventions, says John Glaser, a foreign policy scholar at the Cato Institute.

"This could have implications for the rollback of the so-called forever war in more countries than just Afghanistan. That would be another huge benefit of this," says Glaser.

Glaser also praised the bill's tight timeline and its authors' willingness to reestablish limits on the ability of the president to fight overseas wars, telling Reason, "it's a good sign that someone is actually reasserting Congress' power over the president's war powers, and it's obviously a long time coming."

In a video statement accompanying the release of the bill, Paul noted that original purpose of defeating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan had been achieved, and that the U.S. was now engaged in an expensive, fruitless, nation-building exercise that's seen American taxpayers pay for massive boondoggles like an unusable natural gas station and an unfinished luxury hotel in downtown Kabul.

Ending our nation-building efforts in the country would save $51 billion said Paul, $7 billion of which would be paid out as one-time $2,500 "victory bonuses" to the three million U.S. military personnel that have fought in the war on terror.

When asked about President Donald Trump's position on the bill, Paul said he thought his legislation was in line with the president's non-interventionist impulses.

"I've talked to the president many times about this, and I think his instincts and his intentions are that we really have been long enough in Afghanistan and that we have completed our mission," said Paul, saying that even in private meetings with other Republican lawmakers, the president frequently pushes back on arguments for continued intervention in the country.

The trouble, says Paul, rests with some of the president's advisors who might not share his views on America's overseas wars. "He does have some people around him that are more of the 'stay forever' crowd that makes it a little hard to get his policy done," said Paul. "I don't think his views have changed on this."

The Kentucky senator was candid about the bill's slim chances in Congress, pointing to the Senate's passage of a resolution in early February condemning Trump's late 2018 statements about pulling out of Afghanistan and Syria.

The bill, argues Paul, is nevertheless an important conversation starter that will help build support for ending America's longest war. "Sometimes you have to introduce things that won't pass in the beginning, but it gives us a rallying cry," said Paul, adding that "war's a terrible thing and we should only do it when we have to."

NEXT: America Normalized India's Airstrike Against Pakistan

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      1. Nice callback to ‘Stripes’.

        RIP Harold Ramis.

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  2. Related: Trump says he agrees ‘100%’ with keeping U.S. troops in Syria

    1) This is probably fake news

    2) Trump obviously said he would take all troops out of Syria in order to get a deal on another matter – that is what he does. That is his negotiating style. He makes a big offer and then gets what he wants.

  3. “The AFGHAN Service Act would bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and repeal the legal justification for much of the war on terror.”


  4. “We’ve accomplished our mission in Afghanistan”

    What exactly was that mission?

    1. Enrich American contractors and Afghan warlords?

    2. To defend the honor of the Buddha, I think.

      1. Pretty much that and something for everyone else. If ever there was a campaign to drum up support for military action tailored to pluck the heartstring of every single member of every single focus group across the entire political spectrum the campaign to demonize the Taliban and thus built support for its overthrow was it.

        Long before 9/11/2001, way back in the Clinton administration, stories appeared in the media telling us that the Taliban were extremist fundamentalist Islamic radicals whose oppression of women, homosexuals, and, well, just about any group that would evoke sympathy somewhere in the West was simply awful and had to be ended by regime change. All the while that heart-rending stories of oppression were being planted at NPR/PBS/ABC/CBS/Fox etc the CIA was in-country stirring up warlords who were for the most part equally extremist fundamentalist Islamic radicals to overthrow the Taliban.

        The general population back home lapped this up. If you weren’t a red blooded patriot thirsting to kick some raghead ass you might be gay, or gay sympathetic, or a feminist or whatever. Anyway America was primed for action against these people who blew up ancient religious statues and threw gay men off buildings and beat up girls for wanting to go to school and a whole slew of other horrible things.

        1. Then a bunch of Arabs flew airplanes into buildings right here at home. And those arabs were led by a character who was being giving sanctuary by the said Taliban.

        2. It’s true. And those Warlords like fucking young boys almost as much as PB and Little Jeffy.

          1. But it gets even better. You see, after those arabs knocked down those buildings with airplanes they were all dead ut we needed to go after their boss.

            Now, we knew he was living in a cave in Afghanistan and that he had some kind of deal with the local government that they would let him stay in return for certain considerations. To this day we don’t know what those considerations were but we do know one thing; the local government, ie the Taliban were not actually privy to whatever the Arab chief’s plans were.

            So while the Taliban may have been in some way accessories to Al Qaeda’s plan, they were not actually accomplices.

        3. B-b-b-but someone somewhere is living a lifestyle that differs from the lifestyles of Americans in some minor way! This is an affront to something and must be mitigated immediately! Man the torpedoes! Fire the rocketships! Commission three sloops and loan them to privateers with letters of marque! Something must be done, and this is something, hence this must be done! Outrage! Out! Rage!

        4. While the Bush-era misadventures are quite regrettable in their execution, I think clear-minded people must grapple with the possibility that fostering a modern world might involve putting out a few fundie fires now and then. I’m willing to be convinced either way.

    3. Wipe out the radical islamists we’ve been arming over there for the last 40 years?

  5. The bipartisan American Forces Going Home After Noble Service Act?or AFGHAN Service Act

    I’d almost go with a Constitutional amendment to stop cutesy names for legislation.

    We could call it the Prevent Bullshit and Joshing Amendment–or PB&J Amendment.

    1. You’d be eliminating about 2000 staffers in Congress whose primary job is to create those terms and market any opposition to them as near-treason.

      Why do you hate America?

      1. Because it allows Tony to post

        1. I don’t think it’s Tony that’s posting any more. I think it’s an algorithm.

    2. Maybe we can improve upon that.

      American Forces Going Home After Noble In-country Service Termination Act Now

    3. A constitutional amendment is too much, ordinary legislation would do:

      Legislation Absolutely Prohibiting Dumb Acronyms Naming Congressional Enactments.

  6. “”We’ve spent over $2 trillion total…””

    Which would not be even a down payment on the first installment for the Green New Deal. As wasteful as the US military/industrial complex is, it’s nothing compared to what the Democrats want to erect.

    1. Look, which would you rather have, people killed in a war, or people killed by slow, mass starvation in our attempt to save the planet?

  7. “an important conversation starter”
    Yes, we need more of these, like the Green New Deal. Get people talking about policy issues instead of nonsense like AOC’s dancing talents or Ron Paul’s hairdo. It would be nice if the Dems would introduce their version of Immigration Reform instead of just stamping their feet.

    1. I”t would be nice if the Dems would introduce their version of Immigration Reform instead of just stamping their feet”

      Not going to happen. They need the issue for votes. That’s the extent they really care about immigration.

  8. save for a small number of troops guarding America embassies, consulates, or supporting “intelligence operations authorized by Congress.”

    that makes the bill useless since its always the “intelligence operations” that get us in troubel

  9. Go Rand!

  10. Good for them. Hope they succeed.

  11. So God’s Own Prohibitors of individual rights for women have finally realized their offers to invade and murder the rest of the planet resulted in WAY more anti-war libertarian votes than the difference between the two halves of the looter Kleptocracy. The Solution? Have their token fake libertarians introduce a bill to stop lynching sand people in the opium regie separating Pakistan from Russia. How clever. Meanwhile their response to our successful 1972 Roe v Wade plank has been to tag-team with the Dixiecrats writing 8 different Prohibition Amendments to place females back under Papal Comstock Laws.

  12. I agree with Rand on this issue, as well as almost every other issue. However, I’m disappointed that, as a doctor, he supports the notion that parents don’t have to get their children vaccinated as a “liberty issue.” Parents don’t have the liberty to be negligent, and there is no freedom to spread preventable diseases to other people, some of whom are not able to get vaccinated for various medical reasons. Each state should mandate vaccinations without any exceptions for certain airborne diseases.

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  14. The power to declare war always rested solely with congress. This bill just re-establishes this authority back in the correct branch of government. The power granted to the president has been abused badly by both Bush and Obama. It should never rest in the hands of the president, I’m pretty sure Trump will be relieved to not have this power and therefore not be forced or coerced into placing American troops into any more needless wars.
    Trump may not have fought in any past wars, but he is certainly not a chicken hawk like Bush and Cheney. He is far more deserving of a Nobel peace prize than Obama who received his and then went on to destroy a large section of the M.E.

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