McConnell Statement on President Trump’s Address to the Nation on Afghanistan
‘Maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan protects America's national security interests, and 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.’
LOUISVILLE, KY. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the following statement tonight regarding President Trump’s address to the nation:
“Tonight President Trump reaffirmed to the American people the painful lesson glaringly brought to our shores on September 11, 2001: the United States cannot permit terrorist organizations such as ISIL, al Qaeda or its affiliates to train, recruit and plot from ungoverned sanctuaries--whether within Afghanistan, in the tribal areas of Pakistan, or anywhere else. I commend the President and his national security team for a thoughtful review of our engagement in the region.
“That is the mission of our forces, ensuring that Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorist groups planning to execute attacks against the United States. Because of that purpose, we cannot assign an arbitrary deadline on withdrawal, especially against resilient enemies like al Qaeda and the Taliban. ISIL, al Qaeda, and its affiliates in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere, remain intent on attacking Americans. Our forces, commanded in the region by General John Nicholson, are engaged in two critical tasks: finding, fixing and finishing terrorists; and training and assisting Afghan security forces. Our forces pursue these objectives in partnership with our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies who rushed to our side after September 11th, and with our Afghan partners. It is imperative that Gen. Nicholson receive sufficient force levels to accomplish these tasks.
“Just as the United States maintained forward deployed forces in Japan and Germany after the Second World War and in South Korea after the armistice, a residual presence in Afghanistan and in Iraq, preserves the gains we have made in the respective conflicts in those countries--and America pursues our interests by supporting host nation forces. 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. 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.
“Our all-volunteer force--and their families--have sacrificed so much over the last 16 years. Asking them to do more should never be something that our Commander-in-Chief or Congress does unless our national security interests are threatened and unless we are prepared to provide them with the authorities and forces needed to accomplish their mission. The Trump administration, and this Congress, should be equal to that responsibility.”
Related Issues: Afghanistan, National Security, Al Qaeda, ISIL, America's Military, Iraq, War on Terror