Senator Lindsay Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies, said Sunday that it would be unwise to pull out of Afghanistan and warned that such a decision could have “disastrous” consequences.
Graham noted that withdrawing troops from the country and leaving fewer than 8,600 there would be detrimental.
“Mr. President, if you don’t have a counter-terrorism force left behind, even if you’ve got to deal with the Taliban — which I doubt, but you might — they don’t have the capability or will to protect the American homeland,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
The South Carolina senator told the President that the troops were an “insurance policy against another 9/11” and against the resurgence of ISIS and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, urging Trump to forego the idea of pulling forces from the country, as he has done many times before.
“In one day, we lost 3,000 Americans because we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan,” Graham said.
CNN informs that the senator’s warning comes amid efforts to come up with a peace plan between the U.S. and the Taliban that would most likely formalize a significant withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. About 6,000 troops are expected to be pulled out of the country under the plan, people familiar with it said, in exchange for official commitments by the Taliban to counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan.
However, critics believe that the plan could end up being counterproductive and trigger a surrender for the U.S. and a betrayal of the Afghan government, the outlet adds.
President Trump, on his part, has called for bringing American troops back from the country on multiple occasions, contrary to calls from hawkish Republican lawmakers advocating for preserving a U.S. military presence there.
“You may get a peace deal with the Taliban, but you’ll never get a peace deal with al Qaeda or ISIS,” Graham said, voicing concerns that the President was making “the same mistake that President Obama did in Iraq.”
He added that he would require the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Secretary of State to “certify to the Congress that to go below 8,600 does not create an additional national security risk to the homeland.”