The Skeptics

Foreign Policy Failure: America Has Not Learned from Its Wars

The unsuccessful mission in Afghanistan costs American taxpayers about $45 billion a year. Last year, fifteen Americans were killed in Afghanistan and many more wounded. In 2019, the United States is expected to spend $16 billion on the mission in Syria; to date, four Americans have been killed in Syria. Those two missions alone will cost taxpayers more than $60 billion and some unknown number of American lives.

It is time to take a hard, critical, and unemotional look at our foreign policy in the post–9/11 era and admit that the routine and near-permanent use of lethal military power abroad has not made us safer, continues to squander billions that could be better used in other ways, and needlessly sacrifices the lives of our service members.

For the sake of our national security and economic prosperity, we must stop the reflexive use of lethal military power abroad in an attempt to solve problems and rediscover that sometimes other instruments of national power are better suited to achieve positive outcomes for the nation.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

Image: Reuters