May 26, 2019
US Vice President Mike Pence has indicated that America’s might extend its ongoing military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, telling young military graduates that they should look forward to see combat in those two countries and other parts of the world.
Addressing a group of graduates at the US Military Academy West Point in New York on Saturday, Pence said the young cadets should expect to fight America’s wars abroad.
“Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said, using a term coined by the administration of US President Donald Trump for Daesh and other terror outfits fighting in the Middle East.
The remarks came days after Washington unveiled plans to send another 1,500 troops to the Middle East, where it’s already engaged in years-long battled that have so far failed to yield meaningful results.
The war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 and has been churning on over the past 18 years, is the longest war in the US history.
Washington attacked Afghanistan with the declared aim of ending the rule of the Taliban in the country. Today, however, the militant group remains in control of large parts of the country and is stepping up its attacks on foreign and Afghan security forces by day.
More importantly, Pence’s remarks ran in contrast with Trump’s announcement last year that he was withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan now that Daesh had been defeated.
Trump, under pressure at home, has retracted his stances ever since, saying he is open to keeping some troops in Syria and delaying the Afghanistan withdrawal.
War on Western Hemisphere
Pence also suggested during his speech that the graduates could see combat on the Western hemisphere as well.
“It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life,” Pence said. “You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.”
Currently, the only possibility of a possible war involving the US on the Western Hemisphere is in Venezuela and on America’s own border with Mexico.
The Trump administration has so far refused to rule out the possibility of military action in Venezuela, where US-backed opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido has been trying to bring down the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.
In additions to sanctions against Maduro and his government, Washington officials have left the door open on possible military intervention.
They have even called on the Venezuelan military to take up arms and stage a coup.
Besides Venezuela, the US has also faced the possibility of a military conflict on its southern border with Mexico, where thousands of troops have been stationed over the past few months as part of Trump’s policy to curb illegal immigration.
Pence told the cadets that Trump was the “best friend” they had.
“As you accept the mantle of leadership I promise you, your commander in chief will always have your back,” he said. “President Donald Trump is the best friend the men and women of our armed forces will ever have.”
The vice president said Trump had proposed a $750 billion military budget for 2020 because under his leadership the US “is once again embracing our role as the leader of the free world”.
The ceremony was Pence’s second visit to West Point and his first as commencement speaker. Trump has yet to visit the academy himself.
In 2002, then President George W. Bush used the graduation ceremony to outline his doctrine of pre-emptive military intervention. A year later, he authorized the US military to invade Iraq.
Since 2002, every West Point class has graduated at the time of war. This is while before from the end of the Vietnam War until the aftermath of the September 11 attacks no class in the academy graduated with country engaged in any conflict.