Pro-war American politicians have commended President Donald Trump for making a commitment to a prolonged military presence in Afghanistan.
In a clear U-turn from his campaign pledges to end the now 16-year occupation of Afghanistan, Trump said Monday that his views had changed since entering the White House and that he would continue the military intervention “as long as we see determination and progress” in the South Asian country.
He also took a tough line with Pakistan, warning Islamabad against providing terrorists with “safe havens.”
The position was welcomed by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, some of Trump’s fiercest Republican critics.
The US president announced that he would send more troops to the country’s longest war, which he once described as a “complete waste.”
McCain described the new strategy as a “big step in the right direction” but said it was “long overdue.”
“Nevertheless, I believe the president is now moving us well beyond the prior administration’s failed strategy of merely postponing defeat,” he claimed, taking a jab at former President Barack Obama, who had proposed a phased withdrawal of US troops over the next few years.
The only other instance where McCain had publicly cheered a decision by Trump was in April, when the president ordered US warships in the Mediterranean Sea to fire a barrage of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase.
“I assure you a lot of people in Congress will be behind the president,” said Graham, who presides over the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The game has changed with Pakistan; the gloves are off in Afghanistan. I am very pleased with this plan and I am very proud of our president.”
McCarthy had a similar reaction, saying Trump’s strategy “will help produce a more secure, stable, and sovereign Afghanistan.”
Opposition hits back: Despite the outpouring of support from war hawks, Trump’s opponents on both sides of the aisle blasted the decision.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump had no idea “what he was getting into.” She warned that the Republican commander-in-chief was basically “declaring an open-ended commitment of American lives with no accountability to the American people.”
The US president’s strategy is expected to focus on controlling Afghanistan’s vast natural resources.
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said Trump was putting extra pressure on US military forces and their families without “a plan to transfer power to the Afghan government or a plan to leave the country.”
Republican Senator Rand Paul said the war in Afghanistan “has lost its purpose” and sending more troops there was a “terrible” idea. Ohio’s Republican Governor John Kasich also called for a reduction of troop levels in Afghanistan “without reigniting civil war in that country.”—Agencies