Nov 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell warns U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would be "humiliating"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conducts a news conference after the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Hart Building on Tuesday, November 10

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell duringa a news conference in Washington, D.C., this month. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday warned that a "rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm."

Why it matters: McConnell's Senate floor remarks mark a rare public difference of opinion with President Trump, who's spoken of his desire to swiftly withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Driving the news: Axios' Jonathan Swan reported last Wednesday President Trump's administration plans to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East and Afghanistan before the end of his presidency in January.

  • Two days later, Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said in a memo to military members "it's time to come home."
  • "[W]e remain committed to finishing the war that Al Qaida brought to our shores in 2001. ... [B]ut this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role," he added. "All wars must end."

What he's saying: McConnell likened a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to the American defense forces in 1975 leaving Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, after the Vietnam War, which he said was "humiliating."

  • "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," McConnell said.
  • "The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama's withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011, which fueled the rise of ISIS and a new round of global terrorism."
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