War on Terror

Rep. Dan Crenshaw Claims We Have a 'Very Cost-Effective, Small Footprint' in the Middle East

He's wrong on both counts.


Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R–Texas) thinks that the United States has had a "very cost-effective, small footprint" in the Middle East that led to the death of ISIS terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In an interview with Fox News' Dana Perino on Monday, the former Navy SEAL, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, advocated for a "forward presence" in the Middle East to combat radical Islamic terrorism and protect the "homeland." Crenshaw lauded the 2011 assassination of Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden and Saturday's death of Baghdadi as proof that the U.S. has been successful in its war on terror, which has lasted 18 years.

Crenshaw says he does "understand the frustration" over extended military presence abroad, but thinks it's necessary to protect America from "an ideology that truly wants to kill us."

The most obvious sign of the costs of war in the Middle East is the actual price tag. A recent study conducted by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University found that the U.S. has spent and obligated $5.9 trillion dollars to wars post-9/11 through fiscal year 2019. This figure accounts for any war-related spending that "are consequences of these wars" as well—so it includes Department of Defense spending as well as "war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans' care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security."

To put that number in perspective, it amounts to more than one-third of the current national debt.

The less obvious costs of America's foreign policy in the Middle East are measured in bodies and time. The Watson Institute also compiled the human cost of the United States' post-9/11 wars, finding that 6,951 U.S. soldiers and at least 244,000-266,000 Iraqi, Pakistani, and Afghan civilians have died directly due to war violence as of October 2018. Notably, the study doesn't even include the more than 500,000 lives lost in the Syrian conflict.

Back in 2007, Reason's Brian Doherty noted that that one day, war in Iraq might be perceived as having, "turned out well enough in the end." Doherty observed that, "Time can make every war seem like a good idea, or at least like not an obviously bad one. The progress of civilization being what it is, and people's ability to gin up strong feelings about events far away in space and time being what they are, it can all start to seem For the Best."

Doherty's words ring eerily true 12 years later as politicians like Crenshaw claim our safety as a nation hinges on aggressive, interventionist foreign policy.

As Perino noted in the interview, Middle Eastern interventionism has turned into a "generational fight." "There are many people joining the military today who weren't alive on 9/11," she says. An entire generation of Americans have come of age knowing nothing other than perpetual war—not to mention the resulting debt and destruction. Crenshaw's "forward presence" strategy of U.S. involvement in the Middle East is doomed to continue America down this path, since there will always be another bad guy to pick up the mantle of extremism and fight. Throwing trillions of dollars and more young lives at the problem won't change that.

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  1. Who ever believed that this pirate was a peaceful kind of pirate?

    Neocons believe that taking the fight to the endless “enemies” overseas is the solution.

    Not all military people make good politicians.


      How awful are liberals? This awful: A leftist scum who works for….


    2. Poor troll pod. He thinks calling someone a pirate because of a pirate patch is the same as making fun of battle injuries.

      That and he “has” to read defconnews

      1. I didn’t read past the …. and your response is a good example your dishonesty and/or delusion.

      2. pod….So desperate for a reply.

  2. Crenshaw is McCain 2.0. He’s a total cuck.

    1. He does rock that eyepatch, though. Got the squint, the smoldering gaze, everything.

      1. Like a young Moshe Dayan. Moshe didn’t have a smile it was more of a snarl.

        Yeah Crenshaw has that “dont fuck with me. Seriously, don’t” look.

    2. I leave that title to Tom Cotton.

      1. Really? I always thought McCain was more of a slick, slimy, two-faced political opportunist whereas Cotton is an actual True Believer, far more dangerous than McCain. McCain you could buy off, Cotton is convinced he is God’s messenger sent to smite the wicked and there’s no deterring him from his sacred mission.

  3. Dan Crenshaw should get himself a cynical girl.

  4. Crenshaw says he does “understand the frustration” over extended military presence abroad, but thinks it’s necessary to protect America from “an ideology that truly wants to kill us.”

    After 18 years, the people making decisions still do not have the slightest ability to distinguish what makes those Islamists tick v what actually just ticks them off. Nor do they really give a damn about that either since they are far too engaged posing as the great protector of the domestic sheep.

    1. What ticks off Islamists really doesn’t matter, because totalitarianism is what makes them tick.

      Islamist does not equal Muslim

      1. Well then all you are saying is that the mission of the US in the world is to eliminate ‘totalitarianism’ everywhere

  5. Problem is the way overblown military budget. Once you have all that stuff and people you have to keep doing things to justify more and more spending.

    We need a strong defense force. Defense, not this.

  6. I don’t think this article captured the context of Rep. Crenshaw’s remark about having a small footprint. When I listened to the interview, I thought he was talking only about having a small footprint in Syria. I did not think he was talking about Iraq and Afganistan.

    His comments about how people should act like adults were spot on.

  7. I just love how the subject of today’s, “small footprint” is equated and compared to all war since 9/11.

  8. We’ve been conditioned to think republicans are the war party and they do support our interventions around the world. Need to remember democrats got us into WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, over 70% of them supported the invasion into Iraq, and are criticizing a minor troop pullback in Syria. Why do we still have 40K in Germany since WWII over 30 years after the cold war ended? Can’t Germany and the EU supply their own troops?
    Rand Paul is about the only one in office that actually wants to end our endless interventions.

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