Lawmakers, allies waver on planned troop pullout from Afghanistan
Gen. Joseph Dunford has the approval of John McCain, R-Ariz., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, which could make for a smooth confirmation of the nominee for Joint Chiefs chairman.
Photo by AP
WASHINGTON — Afghanistan's disputed election and Iraq's unraveling are giving members of Congress and U.S. allies in the region reason to think President Obama should rethink his decision to withdraw virtually all American troops from Afghanistan by the close of 2016.
The White House says Afghanistan is different from Iraq, mired in sectarian violence since shortly after U.S. troops left, and that the drawdown decision is a done deal.
Some lawmakers, however, are uncomfortable with Obama's plan, which responds to Americans' war fatigue and his desire to be credited with pulling the United States from two conflicts. Ten senators, Republicans and Democrats, raised the drawdown issue at a congressional hearing on Thursday.
They argued that it's too risky to withdraw American troops so quickly, especially with the Afghan presidential election in the balance. They don't want to see Afghanistan go the way of Iraq, and they fear that the Afghan security force, while making substantial gains, won't be ready for solo duty by the end of 2016.
Under Obama's plan, announced in May before Sunni terrorists seized control of much of Iraq, about 20,200 American troops will leave Afghanistan during the next five months, dropping the U.S. force to 9,800 by year's end. That number would be cut in half by the end of 2015, with only about 1,000 remaining in Kabul after the end of 2016.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a critic of Obama's plan, said, “There's a disaster in the making to our homeland and to losing all the gains we fought for inside of Afghanistan by drawing down too quick and not being able to help the Afghans in a reasonable fashion.”
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.