Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is continuing to cement his stance as an advocate for harsh military interventions outside the United States this weekend to the point of publicly challenging President Donald Trump’s apparent readiness to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. In a lengthy public statement posted to Twitter this Friday, Graham — who these days is often a close Trump ally — asserted that the current president should “learn from Obama’s mistakes,” which the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman defines here as withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. Graham alleges that the withdrawal opened the opportunity for terror groups like ISIS to grow, and he claims that taking a similar move in Afghanistan could have similar results.
Asserting that it would be a “mistake” to trust local forces to keep anti-American terror groups in check, he shared on Twitter:
‘American soldiers in Afghanistan are not acting as policemen. They are the front-line defense for America against the reemergence of radical Islamist groups who wish to attack the American homeland… Mr. President, learn from President Obama’s mistakes. A bad agreement puts the radical Islamist movement all over the world on steroids. Be smart, take your time, and listen to your national security team.’
He added that he believes a U.S. presence in Afghanistan should be “based on conditions on the ground for as long as needed,” indicating readiness to keep this insistently continuing war going essentially indefinitely. He also added that he wants Congressional review of any peace plan.
Long at odds with those demanding some kind of cooperation with foreign powers, Trump has pushed for a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan for some time. Yet another meeting with Trump himself and national security team members was planned for this past Friday, although no plan has apparently been set in stone yet. According to The Washington Post, leading points under consideration include an initial withdrawal of roughly 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and a concession of Afghan territory to the Taliban with agreements for them to keep al Qaeda in check, blocking activities including fundraising, recruiting, and training.
Trump has at times pushed for more dramatic measures, so these points may entail him succumbing to advisers’ counsel — although since there’s no public plan yet, it may be something more like him resisting that counsel as long as he can and succumbing only with great pomp and circumstance.
He’s in the past taken abrupt steps like an announcement of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria without any plan in place for that to actually happen, and without the threat they were addressing — ISIS — actually neutralized. That announcement left local Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. hanging. Eventually, the Trump team came together to pick up the pieces and unroll an only incremental withdrawal. It remains false, though, for Trump to assert that ISIS has been defeated. Even though territory has been reclaimed, it is still operational.
The gaffes surrounding that are not isolated incidents, with Trump routinely pushing other volatile steps — like a relentless behind-the-scenes drive to withdraw U.S. forces from the Korean peninsula just for the heck of it.
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