Khanna: End war in Afghanistan and focus on competing with China

The U.S. must move to end the nearly two-decade war in Afghanistan and, instead, invest on the domestic front if we want to compete with China, Rep. Ro Khanna wrote Monday.

“The biggest threat to democracy isn’t the Taliban; it’s staying economically competitive with authoritarian superpowers like China,” Khanna wrote in USA Today.

“Our strategy goes beyond counterterrorism and is unwinnable” in Afghanistan, wrote Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan may not hasten the Taliban from attempting to spread its influence in the country, said Khanna, but the U.S. can no longer use valuable resources to fight a “permanent insurgency.”

The biggest threat to democracy isn’t the Taliban; it’s staying economically competitive with authoritarian superpowers like China.—Rep. Ro Khanna.

Instead, “deterrence works,” wrote Khanna. “The Taliban should understand that the United States will use overwhelming force again if they harbor terrorists who directly threaten our homeland.”

Last month, President Trump announced his intention to exit long-standing military entanglements in the Middle East, but the proposal was made without much forethought. Khanna stated he disagreed with Trump’s hastily-planned proposal, but nonetheless, supported the overall strategy to remove American troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, but with a clear time-table for withdrawal.

But the most important passage in the short opinion piece—especially for progressives who oppose the wars in the Middle East, and attribute them as a reason for the failing state of U.S. infrastructure—is the rise of China and its inward focus.

“China has avoided this ‘graveyard of empires,’ hasn’t fought in 40 years, and instead invests domestically,” wrote Khanna. “When determining how we pay for investments such as $80 billion for universal broadband, let’s remember we will spend $90 billion in Afghanistan over the next two years.”