Support students, education, not military contractors


Zoe Haworth

Politicians are supposed to unify, not divide

By Eric Bradach

U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is not going away any time soon, as President Donald Trump ordered an increase in troops during his Aug. 21 speech at the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia.

America invaded Afghanistan Oct. 7, 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks by the Taliban and al-Qaida. The war has cost the lives of 2,371 U.S. troops, 31,419 Afghan civilians and 111,442 people overall as of July 2016; meanwhile, it’s resulted in a $2 trillion price tag, according to the Cost of Wars Project at Brown University. That’s not including future costs, such as the interest taxpayers will need to pay on the money borrowed to finance the war.

Trump said the nation should pull out of Afghanistan and focus on domestic policies to “Make America Great Again” on several occasions before and during his presidential campaign. However, he backtracked on his already vague policy and gave an unrealistic objective.

“From now on, victory will have a clear definition,” Trump told the military crowd, “attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terrorist attacks against America before they emerge.”

What Trump has set in motion is an objective with no possible end because he defined victory as killing every terrorist on Earth. Meanwhile, American taxpayers suffer—forking over the money to extend the nation’s longest war. This directs money away from every level of domestic concerns, such as education.

Although there hasn’t been a military draft since the Vietnam War in 1973, and those in college would normally get a deferment, this military initiative will inevitably hurt students.

Higher education doesn’t come cheap, but there is little being done to solve the dilemma of mounting costs and increasing student debt, which has exceeded credit card debt. College tuition and fees surged 63 percent from 2006 to 2016, and college textbook prices skyrocketed by 88 percent, according to an Aug. 30, 2016, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT., proposed free public college and university tuition during his 2016 presidential campaign, which his campaign calculated would cost $75 billion annually.

Immediately, critics swarmed, asking, “How are we going to pay for that?” It is a legitimate question, but Sanders provided an answer: a minuscule tax on Wall Street—the industry that created the 2008 financial crisis.

However, there is little, if any, demand for Trump to explain how he plans to pay for escalating U.S. involvement in Afghanistan or the cost of war. Instead, he has created two untenable sides: Either you support the war effort, or you don’t support the troops.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is usually a harsh critic of Trump, gave the president’s new initiative in Afghanistan a glowing review in an Aug. 22 interview on Fox News. 

That’s because, like many congressman, both Republicans and Democrats, Graham is a chauffeur for the military industrial complex. He received $500,000 from billionaire Ron Perelman in 2014, whose Humvee manufacturer, AM General, has a $245.6 million contract with the U.S. Army, according to a July 30, 2015, article from The Intercept.

Maybe instead of granting military contractors an endless war, our elected officials can support students, enhancing young minds and the next generation. But at this time, it only looks like a dream.