Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk sparred with Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) on Thursday’s episode of The Charlie Kirk Show, asking Crenshaw, “Do you think we should ever end the current war in Afghanistan?” to which the congressman responded, “No.” Crenshaw elaborated on why he believes America must engage in endless wars: “Again, this gets back to, ‘What is the mission?’ The mission is prevention. It always has been. Now, I think the reason we’re having this discussion is because for too long, leaders were telling you that the mission was winning.”
“I think it’s long past time to end the war in Afghanistan,” said Kirk to Crenshaw on Thursday’s episode. “The American people tend to agree with that. Polling shows it’s under water. We spent $5 billion dollars on Afghan security forces — there’s questions if that’s even effective.”
“You heroically served our country overseas,” noted Kirk, adding that he believes one of the issues he and Crenshaw do not see eye-to-eye on is the war in Afghanistan.
“I’m a huge, outspoken critic of it,” said Kirk.
“I’ve noticed,” laughed Crenshaw.
“We’ve spent over a trillion dollars, lost thousands of people — make the case that we should continue the occupation in Afghanistan,” said Kirk. “What does success look like? What does victory look like?”
Crenshaw made his case:
What we get out of it is not another 9/11, every single day — and you’re right, it is under water as far as public opinion goes, and there’s a lot of people who hold the opinion that you have. The president himself is very skeptical of it. And I think the reason behind that is because there’s been a lot of leaders who have been constantly saying that we’re going to win, and we’ve got to win, win, win.
And then everybody’s like, ‘Okay, but what does winning look like?’ And we’ve never been honest about what winning looks like. I’m very honest about what winning looks like. Winning means preventing [a terrorist attack]. It’s preventing the ability of these people, who wake up every single day and want to kill us — and yes, we do go there so that they don’t come here, and I know you think that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard you say that — but it’s not.
“But who was behind 9/11? How many people from Afghanistan were behind 9/11?” pressed the TPUSA founder.
“Well it doesn’t matter,” said Crenshaw. “They were all from Saudi Arabia. I get what you’re saying.”
“Who was behind the Pensacola shooting?” added Kirk. “I mean, to your argument, why don’t we go to Saudi Arabia and make sure they don’t come here?”
“Well, we are in Saudi Arabia,” the Congressman countered.
“We sell them arms,” said Kirk. “We trained their pilots. We don’t have a military occupation of Saudi Arabia.”
“Yeah, I understand that, but you also know that the government of Saudi Arabia isn’t actively trying to destroy our country,” said Crenshaw. “Okay — let’s examine why we went to Afghanistan. We went to Afghanistan because Al-Qaeda was harbored there by the Taliban, and they refused to give them up.”
“Fifteen years later, is Afghanistan in a better place or a worse place?” asked Kirk. “And do you think we’re safer because of the war in Afghanistan?”
“Has there been another 9/11? No, there hasn’t. So, yes.”
Kirk went on to ask Crenshaw if he would ever want American forces to leave Afghanistan.
“Do you think we should ever end the current war in Afghanistan in the next decade? As it is now?”
“As it is now, we have a very small contingent of troops. No,” answered Crenshaw, “I mean, it’s dependent on the situation. I agree with your skepticism of nation-building.”
“Which we tried,” noted Kirk.
“The Taliban themselves are closely aligned with the Al-Qaeda ideology,” added Crenshaw of why he believes the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan. “There’s no reason to think that they won’t continue to support them if [we] just pick up and leave.”
“Yes, we should,” countered Kirk of the U.S. leaving Afghanistan.
“Okay, then they’re going to do it again,” maintained Crenshaw. “Another 9/11, another planned attack.”
Kirk then elaborated on one of the reasons why he believes Crenshaw’s argument is fundamentally flawed:
The apparatus behind 9/11, the physical training ground was assisted by the Taliban, assisted by Al-Qaeda, also assisted by Iran, and many royal families in Saudi Arabia. So, there was multi-national Middle Eastern collusion against the United States. So, to be consistent with your argument, we should be present in all of those countries, right?
“We are actively thwarting all of those countries,” answered Crenshaw. “We didn’t invade them all.”
“We’re not thwarting Saudi Arabia,” argued Kirk. “We’re training their pilots and they kill our people, we sell them billions of dollars of arms, and we’re supporting their war in Yemen.”
Crenshaw reiterated what he believes is the most important issue:
Again, this gets back to, “What is the mission?” The mission is prevention. It always has been. Now, I think the reason we’re having this discussion is because for too long, leaders were telling you that the mission was winning. Okay, winning what? That’s an honest question.
We need to build capacity within the Afghan government, we need to create some kind of economy there, so that they’re stable, so that this crap doesn’t keep happening. I think that’s a pretty good argument by itself, but the other argument is literally prevention. You have to understand how this enemy thinks.
“These people do wake up every single day, and they think of ways to kill us, and this happened well before 9/11, this happened well after 9/11,” added Crenshaw. “If they’re not thinking of ways to attack the base, where a bunch of armed guys like me are waiting for them, they’re thinking of ways to attack the homeland.”
Crenshaw and Kirk continued discussing the war, with Kirk making the point: “We are still spending $5 billion a year of Afghan security forces — the documents that were just leaked said they couldn’t find enough places to spend the money — wasting it on stuff they knew they were never going to use. And as a conservative, I’m like, ‘we’re sending our tax dollars when we’re even admitting we’re not spending the money properly?'”
You can listen to the Kirk and Crenshaw’s discussion on The Charlie Kirk Show.