A Partial Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Prompts Predictable Political Backlash
President Donald Trump is looking to end his presidency by quickly pulling some U.S. troops out of Mideast engagements.
It’s not a full withdrawal, according to draft documents that have been circulating since Monday. Instead, the Pentagon would cut the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to somewhere between 2,000 to 2,500 troops by the time Trump leaves office in January. The U.S. would also reduce troop levels in Iraq and Somalia.
This would appear at a glance to be good news for the majority of Americans who would like to see American servicemembers brought home from the Middle East and our military interventions ended. But the speed of the drawdown has been resisted internally, and recently fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper had questioned its acceleration. Esper, in a classified memo, warned that a rapid pullout would endanger troops remaining behind and jeopardize peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government.
The removal is, for rather predictable reasons, being attacked from both sides. After nearly 20 years of occupation, some prominent conservatives insist that our continued armed presence in the Middle East is necessary to protect America from terrorism, with little evidence that Afghanistan’s occupation has actually made us domestically safer. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R–Texas), himself a military veteran, opined on Twitter, “Withdrawing troops rapidly might make some people feel better, but it won’t be good for American security. We will be right back in the same place as pre-9/11. No deterrence, no situational awareness, vulnerable to emboldened terrorists.”
The idea that we had no methods of deterrence and no situational awareness to terrorist threats prior to the September 11 attacks is simply nonsense. And asking thousands of American troops to sta
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