Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rarely broken publicly with President Donald Trump, but the reports of a planned troop drawdown from Afghanistan and Iraq were enough to lead the Kentucky Republican to speak on the Senate floor lambasting the idea.
“Of course, all wars must end,” he said. “The question is now how they end and whether the terms on which they end are favorable or unfavorable to the security and interests of the United States. And nothing about the circumstances we face today suggest that if we lose resolve, the terrorists will simply leave us alone.”
McConnell made a point of highlighting what he considers a very successful Trump administration foreign policy, from diplomatic successes to the fight against ISIS.
But on Iraq and Afghanistan, McConnell said he’s concerned about the consequences of withdrawal.
“We do not have hundreds of thousands of soldiers engaged in combat abroad,” he said. “We’re not an occupying force. Today our limited American military presence in the Middle East is supporting local forces and enabling multinational efforts. We’re playing a limited but important role in defending American national security and American interests against terrorists who would like nothing more than for the most powerful force for good in the world to simply pick up our ball and go home. They would love that.”
“There’s no American who does not wish the war in Afghanistan against terrorists and their enablers had already been conclusively won. But that does not change the actual choice before us now. A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm. Violence affecting Afghans is still rampant,” he said.
McConnell even went so far as to negatively compare the president’s reported plans to “President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which fueled the rise of ISIS and a new round of global terrorism.”
He said this “would hand a weakened and scattered al-Qaeda a big propaganda victory and a renewed safe haven for plotting attacks against America, and it would be welcome news to Iran.”
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