SUNDANCE – A movement organized by veterans in Western states, intended to press Congress to support President Trump's efforts to bring U.S. troops home from endless wars in the Middle East, has quickly spread across the country, an early leader in the effort said Friday.
Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, majority whip of the Wyoming House of Representatives and a five-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, said his organization -- BringOurTroopsHome.US -- will convene a meeting of like-minded veterans, state legislators, and citizen activists from around the country in Washington, D.C., next week in conjunction with the Veterans Day holiday.
Lindholm is scheduled to meet next Wednesday with Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in her Capitol Hill office.
Lindholm will also chair a bipartisan panel of state legislators from around the country – including state Rep. Andi Clifford, D-Riverton – to discuss a coordinated strategy by lawmakers in multiple states to pursue a 10th Amendment-based check and balance on federal war-making powers. Lindholm and others will introduce legislation next legislative session to require that their states' National Guard units cannot be deployed to combat operations unless Congress has approved a formal declaration of war.
The event will feature a keynote address at the National Press Club by retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, U.S. Army, a special forces commander who was among the first U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan in 2001 who initially fought the Taliban on horseback, plus panel discussions by other high-ranking military officers and NCOs on the effects of America's now 18-year long war on the military itself and on minority service members and their communities.
Veterans from 24 states and state legislators from seven states are confirmed to attend Lindholm's event, and each will meet with their states' respective Congressional delegations.
"BringOurTroopsHome.US is already spreading around the country at a wildfire’s pace,” wrote radio talk show host Scott Horton of Austin, Tex., author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. "They have the president’s own words to invoke when stating their case that 18 years of this is enough.”
Lindholm said, "We have a simple message for Rep. Cheney and the rest of Congress. Support the President’s efforts to withdraw American troops from war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere, and bring our troops home. Then, before American troops are sent into combat overseas in the future, return to the Constitutional standard of requiring a formal declaration of war by Congress, as stipulated in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution."
Lindholm this year has been critical of Cheney's support for expanding American military involvement in the Middle East, including her insistence in June that the U.S. bomb Iran after it downed an unmanned U.S. drone.
"That's insane," Lindholm said in a video reported by Wake Up Wyoming, a Casper radio talk show. "We essentially lost a pickup truck. It's folks like Rep. Liz Cheney who are keeping us at war even though she has never been at war herself." https://wakeupwyo.com/wyo-state-rep-lindholm-blames-cheney-for-endless-wars-video/
Lindholm's efforts began last winter when he became aware of BringOurTroopsHome.US, an organization of veterans founded by former Idaho Army National Guard Sgt. Dan McKnight, who served in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007.
In February, Lindholm launched a Wyoming affiliate of that movement, including its own website – www.WyBringOurTroopsHome.com – and authored a guest opinion, published in multiple newspapers in the state, in which he urged Cheney to follow U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, in abandoning the Bush-Cheney doctrine of nation-building in the Middle East. https://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/opinion/rep-lindholm-risch-disavows-nation-building-cheney-should-follow/article_46595d47-c849-5c51-b8f4-28faa26148fd.html
"It’s past time that Congress reclaim the war powers wrested from it nearly two decades ago when our current endless wars began," Lindholm wrote. "It’s past time Rep. Cheney join Sen. Risch in disavowing a policy that’s come at too high a cost in American blood and treasure."
Risch that month had declared the doctrine a failure in comments to the Boise Chamber of Commerce, referring to efforts begun by former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney's father, to establish Western-style democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We’ve been at this now for over two decades," Risch said, "and what do we have to show for it? A goose egg. If you’re going to give somebody a gift of democracy, a free market system, human rights, of basic rights stated in our Bill of Rights and Constitution, they’ve got to want it, and if they don’t want it, it doesn’t matter how much you shovel at them, it isn’t going to happen. We’ve spent $2 trillion now in Afghanistan, and we’ve shed lots and lots of American blood there. ...I am through trying to do nation-building with countries that don’t want it."
In May, Lindholm echoed Risch's sentiments in a front page lead story in the Casper Star-Tribune.
"I have a 13-year-old who, five years from now, could possibly serve in the same war her dad did," Lindholm told the Star-Tribune. "There are lots of arguments to be made, like bringing democracy to these people, but clearly, they don’t want democracy. We’ve tried. We’ve given it to them on a silver platter. And what we’re doing isn’t working.” https://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/wyoming-state-lawmaker-urges-delegation-to-bring-troops-home/article_326acfae-520b-5a90-84be-530a2c7238ba.html
Lindholm garnered national attention in September when a second guest opinion he coauthored with state Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, former vice chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party, was published in the Washington Examiner, a newspaper in the nation's capital. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/wyoming-legislators-liz-cheney-should-stop-carping-at-trump-for-rejecting-endless-war
The two lawmakers called on Cheney to stop publicly criticizing President Trump for deciding not to bomb Iran and for "pushing the U.S. toward yet another endless war in the Middle East, where the men and women of America’s armed forces have already been deployed and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq for a generation."
"Rather than rush to a microphone to publicly criticize Trump’s judgment as mistaken, weak, defeatist, and even potentially dangerous, (Rep. Cheney) should give our demonstrably strong commander-in-chief the benefit of the doubt if he shows reasoned and measured restraint," Lindholm and Olsen wrote. "The last thing the American people, our troops, and veterans want is another endless war, and most Americans want ones we’re in now to end."
"After two decades, U.S. taxpayers and military families are tired of financing and policing other people’s wars, at the price of American blood and trillions of our tax dollars," they wrote. "Rep. Cheney should stop attacking the President when he acts — consistent with those sentiments — to do what he said he’d do: end America’s endless wars.
Last month, Ben Adams -- an Idaho Marine veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan and is part of BringOurTroopsHome.US -- authored a pointed commentary published in the Jackson Hole News and Guide, urging Cheney to "stop forcing U.S. troops to prop up (the) pedophile culture" in Afghanistan.
The former Marine, who will attend next week's event, recounted his experience of being ordered not to interfere when allied Afghan police chiefs perpetuated a tribal tradition of keeping eight to fifteen-year old boys as sex slaves, dressing them as females and repeatedly raping and sodomizing the boys. https://www.jhnewsandguide.com/rep-cheney-stop-forcing-u-s-troops-to-prop-up/article_875e7a22-128d-5c8b-b412-36af9bb20c0a.html
"Given the glaringly obvious futility of expecting U.S. troops to 'democratize' or 'Westernize' Afghani culture and morality," Adams wrote, "is it really the intention, in good conscience, of policy makers in Washington — including Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming — to keep American troops there, literally, forever? No, Rep. Cheney. Hell no."
Lindholm's event is already being reported in the nation's capital in anticipation that sparks may fly during his scheduled face-to-face meeting with Cheney.
"Lindholm is seeking to pressure his state’s Republican Rep. Liz Cheney during the Nov. 12-13 visit," the Washington Examiner reported Oct. 18th, quoting Lindholm as unambiguous in describing his message for Cheney and veterans attending the event.
"If you listen to the sound clips of war hawks (such as Rep. Cheney) who say you can’t pull out now because a vacuum will be created, and we can’t pull out in the future because a vacuum will be created, and you're tired of that bulls--t, contact your congressional delegation,” Lindholm told the Examiner. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/white-house/conservative-veterans-will-fan-out-in-washington-to-defend-trump-syria-strategy
Lindholm's message is bolstered not only by outspoken support from Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and state and federal lawmakers of both parties, but also strong majorities of Americans in half a dozen polls this past year of voters, military service personnel, and veterans.
An Economist magazine poll last month found that 57 percent of Republicans approve of President Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, while a Politico poll in January found that 81 percent of those who voted for Trump in 2016 favor the president's plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. (See polls at https://bringourtroopshome.us/polls/ )
According to the group's recently upgraded website, BringOurTroopsHome.US is "dedicated to ending American involvement in endless wars in the Middle East and bringing our troops home. Further, we are committed to advocating a change in U.S. foreign policy that does not automatically default to military intervention. And finally, we insist that the Constitution be respected and enforced, requiring a formal declaration of war by Congress — as mandated by Article I of the Constitution — before U.S. military forces may legitimately be deployed."
In addition to Lindholm and Clifford, Wyomingites attending the event will include Clifford's husband Don, also a veteran; Bethany Baldes, Riverton, a Wyoming National Guard veteran and 2018 Libertarian Party candidate who lost a state House race last year by less than 60 votes, and Nick Trandahl, Upton, a U.S. Army veteran and reporter for the Weston County Gazette.