PICTURED: William Ruger, speaking with attendees at the 2017 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore. CC 2.0.
July 17th, 2020. According to unnamed sources speaking with Politico, President Trump is looking to fill a vacancy in the government – Ambassador to Afghanistan, a position that hasn’t been properly held since Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American diplomat who has spearheaded the Trump administration’s peace process in Afghanistan.
The candidate is William Ruger, a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and vice president for research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute. Ruger is allegedly being vetted for the job, and has passed the background check and ethics review. Other candidates are also being looked at, but the appointment of Ruger would be a strong signal that President Trump hasn’t given up his position of withdrawal from America’s longest-ever war.
After the New York Times reported that the Russian military was allegedly placing bounties on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan, a bipartisan coalition led by Rep. Liz Cheney (R – WY) amended the 2021 military budget in order to prohibit tax dollars being used for the purpose of withdrawing troops from the country.
As concerned as the members of Congress were, the story proved to have little in the way of corroboration or legitimacy, and the Sec. of Defense, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and members of the Defense Intelligence Agency, described the intelligence report on the bounties as being of “low-confidence” and “uncorroborated”.
Ending the war in Afghanistan
Ruger has often gone on record as a skeptic and critic of the Afghanistan War, which has cost over $1 trillion to fight, and has led to the direct combat deaths of around 2,200 Americans, 9 of whom died this year.
In a recent article Ruger wrote for the National Interest, the Cato and Koch research fellow questioned many of the taken-for-granted invocations for remaining in the conflict, including the question of “safe haven” and of the relationship between the Taliban and the Kabul government.
“President Trump has correctly concluded that a full and speedy withdrawal of our troops is imperative. Our national interest isn’t served by continuing to wage a futile battle but by exiting it,” wrote Ruger. “However, the clear-cut case for withdrawing isn’t stopping many within the foreign policy establishment from trying to prevent an end to American involvement in the war”.
He quotes stay-and-fight arguments from General David Petraeus, Richard Haas, Susan Rice, and others, before noting that “…these establishment elites have failed to tell us how staying is going to accomplish much more than wasting additional American blood and treasure”.
While President Trump ran on a strong anti-war rhetoric, including calling for ends to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, describing them as “endless,” a term which the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates quickly subsumed into their vocabulary, he has appointed a notoriously warhawk cabinet, with officials including Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, and Robert O’Brien, offering little support and few mechanisms for Trump’s campaign promises to be fulfilled.
Ruger, if Politico’s sources are correct, would be the first appointment who would seem to share Trump’s opinions on the matter… WaL