Lawmakers praise and condemn Trump’s Afghanistan plan


U.S. lawmakers were divided today on President Trump’s plans to increase the presence of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, with the House speaker lauding “a new Trump strategy,” for instance, while a fellow Republican in the Senate called it a “terrible idea.”

Trump’s announcement tonight was a reversal of the position he held prior to his bid for the presidency, but the addition of U.S. troops in Afghanistan comes as he has demonstrated a willingness to engage militarily in the region.

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” Trump said this evening. “But all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

Here’s what some lawmakers and others had to say:

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joining several GOP lawmakers, expressed his support at a CNN Town Hall, noting he was “pleased with the decision.”

“I think I heard a new Trump strategy, or a doctrine so to speak,” he said. “Principled realism is how I think he described it. So I think it’s important when it comes to our blood and our treasure and our soldiers and our safety, that we actually have a comprehensive doctrine that we apply.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., applauded Trump’s decision for “refocusing military efforts” to produce a “more secure, stable and sovereign Afghanistan.”

“I am confident of the path ahead, and will work with my colleagues to ensure our troops have the resources they need to succeed in their mission,” he said. “This framework … is the right thing to do for Afghanistan, the United States and the world.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called Trump’s new strategy a “big step in the right direction,” warning that it was “long overdue.” He said it is important that “the newly announced strategy gives no timeline for withdrawal” and that it is based “on conditions on the ground.”

“At the same time, Congress must meet its responsibilities for overseeing the war in Afghanistan and providing the necessary resources for it. The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to meet its special obligations in this regard, beginning with a hearing on this…in September,” McCain said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., commended the president and his national security team for a thoughtful review of Afghanistan.

“Despite all of our efforts, and the unmistakable sacrifice and valor of our forces, we remain threatened by terrorists, as last week’s attacks in Spain reminded us all. Maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan protects America’s national security interests,” McConnell said in a statement.

McConnell added, “Our overseas presence should not be guided by arbitrary withdrawal deadlines. The Taliban will never agree to a political settlement in Afghanistan if a date for our drawdown has been handed to them.”

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted that it was a “bold step” to assert “America’s strength worldwide.”

As carried in ABC on 23.8.17

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