Opinion Column

The Duel

War gets Trump-brand refresh

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Americas military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base on Aug. 21, 2017 in Arlington, Va.  (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Americas military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base on Aug. 21, 2017 in Arlington, Va. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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After Donald Trump’s Charlottesville equivocating, he is desperate for a distraction. So he’s rebranding his predecessors’ war in Afghanistan, which was supposed to curb terrorism, but has the opposite effect.

Since the Crusades, the West has been invading predominantly-Muslim countries. Successive military campaigns in Afghanistan and the Middle East have evolved increasingly virulent oppositions: Mujahideen, Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIS.

Afghanistan has been invaded by Persians, Greeks, Mongols, Mughals, Sikhs, British, Soviets and Americans. They resisted.

In the 19th century, Britain invaded and redrew Afghanistan’s borders right through the Pashtun people. This would become the birthplace of the Taliban and al-Qaida and frequent target of American drones.

Afghanistan won independence in 1919, but Britain continued frequent military and political interference, undermining social reformers and assisting conservative reactionaries.

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

To combat the 1979 Soviet invasion, the CIA-trained anti-Russian rebels, including Osama Bin Laden, who ultimately redirected those lessons against his teachers.

After 9/11, George W. Bush invaded. Sixteen years later, troops – and instability – remain. Countless military operations over centuries have hardened resistance and deepened misery.

Now Trump is rebranding the same old war, calling on NATO – including Canada – to help him kill terrorists, not build schools. Though, after you’ve destroyed a nation, a modicum of rebuilding is often only polite. But nation building is one of many justifications for Western meddling, including: building democracy, peace or Christianity.

Many on the alt-right, such as former Rebel personality Faith Goldy, call for a modern Crusade against Islam. Online, deus vault memes and Crusades paintings of charging knights proliferate. Trump knows his base will love a rebooted war on a Muslim country.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that the internecine, unwinnable nature of the conflict will drive the Taliban to negotiate. Brent thinks Trump’s status quo war will lead to “detente” between “radical Islam and the West.”

But Trump lacks the necessary art of the deal to broker peace, though Taliban officials may agree with his banning trans soldiers.

Trump offers nothing new. Not even his chest-thumping rhetoric is original. It’s classic American imperialism. This war has become permanent. The West should end centuries of making things worse.

This rebooted war is just a diversion. With their fundamentalism and spectacular violence, the Taliban and neo-Nazis seem cut from the same cloth. So far this year, 28 people have been people killed by white supremacists. Trump need not look for terrorists abroad. There are plenty at home.

Garth Mullins is a broadcaster, activist, writer, musician and trade unionist. He’s at www.garthmullins.com or @garthmullins.