How is Your Opinion Formulated?

The airwaves are filled with pundits second-guessing President Trump at every turn. I have a deep abiding respect for military men and women who have served and know the landscape of the issues before us, as a country. However, social media is abundant with average everyday citizens who think they know what’s best for our country. Opinions. They are all over the map lately! And, you know what they say about opinions… well, I won’t say it here. But, everybody has one.

What’s important is: how is your opinion formulated? Do you read bits from the Washington Post? The New York Times? How about Breitbart? Yes, you say. But, you know in reality, none of that counts.

In the end, the only person who’s “read in” on intelligence is the President of the United States and those with clearance who report to him. That works out to be a relatively small group of people. These men and women are given detailed information brought together from many different intelligence sources so that they can make an educated decision.

Bottom line is, we as civilians, don’t really know the details. We can guess and deduce and pontificate all day. But, we just don’t know. We can study history and draw conclusions in that manner. But, again, history is a set of events that occurred at a specific time within a unique set of circumstances, and there’s no guarantee history will repeat itself. Times change, allies and adversaries change. A good example of this is when the United States supported the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, in 1979, during the Cold War. Back then Russia fought in Afghanistan for ten grueling years. At that time, America supported the Mujahideen (now a well-known terror group), along with our ally, Pakistan. In the end, Russia was unable to prop up their communist presence in Afghanistan. Point is, foreign policy makes strange bedfellows. And, now we’re not in bed with that terror group, we’re fighting them in the theater.

So many chess pieces have been moved on the board since we started this Afghani journey back in 2001. President Bush had a plan to remain in the region, however that got shelved by his successor. As a result, we had eight years of an administration that led from behind. An apologist in the white house who withdrew American troops by the tens of thousands, aiding and abetting the enemy by announcing the date of withdrawal beforehand. This action allowed many terror groups to flourish and violence in the region actually increased and spread to other countries. Much of what the United States had spent in blood and treasure was abandoned in a short period of time. And, we wonder why veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are disheartened.

In listening to the President’s address regarding Afghanistan and his plan for the continued presence of the United States in that country, I noticed he also spoke about Pakistan and India. The entire region needs to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner.

The libertarian in me so wants to disengage from these long-fought wars. But, the commonsense side of me realizes the world is a complex and changing landscape. We cannot afford to do this alone. We need allies who have an interest in keeping the region stable. And, more importantly, I recognize that I do not have all of the details to even make an educated decision.

Picking apart every decision our President makes — particularly at this time — does not serve us well. The world is watching. We are called the UNITED States of America for a reason. Can we put aside our disagreements long enough to ensure our continued existence on the planet? I am hoping so. Time will tell.

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