Here’s a shocker for you.
Republican officials aren’t too happy about President Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan. In fact, some are downright fussy about the whole affair. Apparently, 19 years of war isn’t enough for some people.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized the president’s plan for a quick drawdown of U.S. forces in the region. He argued that it would help American’s enemies. “A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the lawmaker spoke out against bringing troops home from the Middle East. Last year, he bashed the president’s decision to remove U.S. soldiers from northern Syria and went so far as to introduce a measure opposing the withdrawal.
In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell argued that removing soldiers from the region would “embolden” the Taliban which is not living up to its end of the peace deal negotiated in February. He insisted that a withdrawal would give radical Islamic terrorist groups like al Qaeda “a big, big propaganda victory and a renewed safe haven for plotting attacks against America.”
The Senate Majority Leader also indicated that a “premature American exit would likely be even worse” than former President Barack Obama’s decision to remove troops from Iraq. It was this decision that led to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS).
According to Politico, other Republicans echoed McConnell’s arguments on Monday.
Sen. Marco Rubion (R-FL) argued that leaving Afghanistan would hamper the nation’s ability to combat terrorism. “The concern would be it would turn into a Saigon-type of situation where it would fall very quickly and then our ability to conduct operations against terrorist elements in the region could be compromised,” he said. “That’s my primary concern right now.”
Other GOP lawmakers speculated that an exit from the country could empower the Taliban to threaten the Afghan goverment. “You can’t simply unilaterally draw down troops,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), a member of the Armed Services Committee. “I think it’s a serious mistake to unilaterally walk away.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who has traveled to Afghanistan with Trump, said he was “hoping that the president listens and takes advice from the men and women on the ground, the commanders in the field.” And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said a 2,500-troop contingency “may be the residual force that protects us from a collapse.”
Despite the criticism, President Trump has remained steadfast in his commitment to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East. Last week, he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper because he opposed the reducing of troop levels in the region. Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who was appointed soon thereafter, indicated that he is in full agreement with drawing down the number of soldiers still stationed in the country.
According to Politico, “just 2,500 American troops would remain in each country by Jan. 15, just five days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Currently, there are between 4,500 and 5,000 troops in Afghanistan and around 3,000 in Iraq.”
Despite the protestations of Republican lawmakers, it is difficult to see the advantage of keeping American forces in the Middle East. Remaining in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of military involvement does not seem sensible at this point. Continuing to place our soldiers in danger without a compelling reason doesn’t exactly benefit the United States.
While some members of the GOP have valid concerns about drawing down our troops in the region, we can always come up with reasons to keep our forces abroad. But does the supposed benefit outweigh the danger our soldiers in? Does it outweigh the cost of keeping them in Afghanistan? As the years go on, it becomes harder to justify our military involvement.
Like President Trump indicated earlier this year, bringing our troops home will not prevent our forces from monitoring the situation on the ground. If we must engage again military in the region, we can do so. But right now, it doesn’t make sense to remain in Afghanistan without a clear benefit to the U.S. Let’s bring the troops home.
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