‘The president needs to go to Afghanistan,’ Sen. Graham says as GOP alarm grows over Trump foreign policy

‘The president needs to go to Afghanistan,’ Sen. Graham says as GOP alarm grows over Trump foreign policy

WASHINGTON – Senior Republicans in Congress are increasingly alarmed by the Trump administration’s foreign policy moves, saying the president’s abrupt decisions to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and to pull back in Afghanistan will put America at risk and aggravate key allies around the globe.

“I’m going to ask for hearings like right now,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a defense hawk and normally a forceful Trump ally, told reporters Friday. “I want to know where we’re going.” 

If the moves are the result of Trump’s “America First” agenda, Graham said, then that policy is misguided. “If America First is ‘It’s their problems, not ours, and we don’t need allies,’ that’s a formula for disaster,” he said.

Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, the GOP chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said a U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan would have terrible consequences.

It would “complicate the remaining troops ability to protect themselves,” ease pressure on the Taliban at a key moment in peace negotiations and allow ISIS and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan to regain strength and plan attacks against the U.S., Thornberry warned in a statement on Friday.

Coupled with the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday, several GOP lawmakers said they feared Trump was taking the U.S. down a dangerous path. Republicans normally reluctant to criticize Trump found themselves vocally opposed to his latest decisions.   

“I’m very concerned,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Inhofe said he was “disappointed” in Trump’s move to withdraw all 2,000 American troops from Syria and the president’s proposal to cut in half the 14,000-strong American force in Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal first reported the Afghanistan drawdown plan. 

“If he follows through (on Afghanistan) … I would think he would have a credibility problem with our allies,” Inhofe said. “I would have felt better if we still had our Secretary of Defense on duty,” he added, but Mattis’ impending departure has deepened his unease.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Mattis’ resignation letter should serve as a dire warning. In an implicit rebuke to the president, Mattis highlighted his disagreements with Trump over respect for U.S. allies and “being clear-eyed” about America’s enemies.

“It makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances & empower our adversaries,” Rubio tweeted after reading Mattis’ letter on Thursday.

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