The Washington Times - June 24, 2013, 06:48AM

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul says that after more than a decade of war in the Middle East, the United States has learned absolutely nothing.

Mr. Paul, in his weekly column, cites the Taliban’s recent opening of an office in Doha, Qatar, saying that while it was meant to serve only as a new venue for talks on how to end the war in Afghanistan, “the Taliban opening looked very much like a government in exile.”

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“For years, many of us had argued the need to get out of Afghanistan,” the Texas Republican writes. “We cannot leave, we were told for all those years. If we leave Afghanistan now, the Taliban will come back! Well guess what, after 12 years, trillions of dollars, more than 2,200 Americans killed, and perhaps more than 50,000 dead Afghan civilians and fighters, the Taliban is coming back anyway!

“We left Iraq after a decade of fighting, and the country is in far worse shape than when we attacked in 2003,” he continued. “After trillions of dollars wasted and tens of thousands of lives lost, Iraq is a devastated, desperate and violent place with a presence of al Qaeda. No one in his right mind speaks of a U.S. victory in Iraq these days. We learned nothing from it.”

Mr. Paul writes that all the U.S. has to show for the war in Afghanistan is trillions of dollars wasted and thousands of lives lost.

“Afghanistan is a devastated country with a weak, puppet government — and now we negotiate with those very people we fought for those 12 years, who are preparing to return to power! Still we learn nothing,” he writes. “Instead of learning from these disasters brought about by the interventionists and their failed foreign policy, the president is now telling us that we have to go into Syria!”

Mr. Paul recounted a story from U.S. Army Col. Harry Summers, who met with a North Vietnamese colonel named Tu when he visited Hanoi in 1975.

” ‘You know, you never defeated us on the battlefield,’ Col. Summers said. Tu paused for a moment, then replied, ‘That may be so. But it is also irrelevant.’ “

“Sadly, that is the story of our foreign policy,” Mr. Paul concludes. “We have attacked at least five countries since 9/11. We have launched drones against many more. We have deposed several dictators and destroyed several foreign armies. But, looking around at what has been achieved, it is clear: It is all irrelevant.”