Feb 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Koch ads urge Biden to pull Afghan troops

Screenshot from an ad campaign that reads: "Tell Washington: It's time to bring our troops home"

Screenshot of forthcoming ad from Concerned Veterans for America. Courtesy photo.

The Koch-backed group Concerned Veterans for America is launching a seven-figure digital ad campaign this week urging President Biden to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by May, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The ad blitz comes as Biden's national security team is debating whether to delay the withdrawal, amid fears the wrong decision could lead to a resurgence of terrorism and uptick of violence in the country.

  • Notably, Biden did not mention Afghanistan during a speech last Thursday at the State Department — an omission foreign policy experts took as a sign of him remaining undecided about how to resolve the troop dilemma.
  • The move requested by the veterans' group would honor a deal former President Trump's made with the Taliban last year.

Details: Concerned Veterans will initially pump $1.25 million into its new nationwide ad campaign.

  • One such ad — titled, "20 Years. It's Time." — highlights the length of the war and urges viewers to call on the White House and their elected representatives to bring the troops home.

What they're saying: "What we would like to do is find ways to work with the administration where there's common ground," Will Ruger, vice president of foreign policy for Stand Together, a Koch Network organization, tells Axios.

  • Nonetheless, "We have to hold them accountable. ...The president will talk about ending the war there, but then keep a counterterrorism force — and that's a contradiction. And I think that contradiction needs to be remembered by the public."

The backdrop: Stand Together has spent over $3 million since 2019 on a series of ads about the issue.

  • In total, the campaign has generated over 700,000 emails to Washington leaders urging them to end the war.
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