Since before he was even elected, President Donald Trump has made it clear that one of his top priorities is ending the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan and bringing American troops back home.
Now, it appears that Trump has an unlikely ally in this goal. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) shares that vision and acknowledged that he intends to see it through, even if Trump is voted out of office in November.
Smith’s admission likely displeased House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has gone out of her way to deny Trump anything that even remotely resembles a “win” ever since the president took office.
Smith: Afghanistan drawdown will continue
Smith’s discussion of bringing the almost two-decades-long conflict in Afghanistan to a satisfactory conclusion came on Thursday during a “Virtual Fireside Chat” with Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for a New American Security, the Washington Examiner reported.
“I think continuing on an aggressive drawdown plan is probably in our best interests,” Smith said. “You know, we’ve been there almost 20 years now. I think it’s pretty clear that our military is not going to solve that problem.”
“I’m not saying that everything’s fine. We can pull out and there won’t be any problems,” he continued and, after noting that there were still around 4,000 U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan, asked rhetorically, “What’s the cost? What’s the cost-benefit to having that many U.S. troops in Afghanistan?”
Answering his own questions, Smith said, “There’s a cost to that, both in terms of the risk to U.S. service members, a cost in terms of the money, and also a cost in terms of how the rest of the world looks at us, sort of imposing our will on others in a way that makes them uncomfortable.”
How to do it safely, and when?
Of course, one of the biggest questions regarding a complete drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is how to go about it in a manner that doesn’t result in the war-torn nation immediately devolving into a safe haven for terrorists to plot against the U.S. and its allies — the primary reason Afghanistan was invaded by American and NATO forces in the first place in late 2001.
“I’m pretty confident that we can get to the place where we can, working with partners in the region, using intel, and other — we can contain that threat of that transnational attack without having that many boots on the ground, or necessarily any boots on the ground,” Smith said. “This is part of what I’m hoping we can get to if we have a Biden administration. You know, what are the risks, how are we trying to manage them?”
While it appears that Smith and Trump are on the same page with regard to the goal of bringing all U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, the Democratic congressman differs with the Republican president on other military-related issues.
Smith did not agree with Trump’s optimistic prediction that U.S. troops could be coming home from Afghanistan as soon as Christmas, nor did he support the president’s National Defense Strategy, which is focused on building up and maintaining a military force capable of taking on and defeating both China and Russia in conventional or nuclear conflict. Watch the full chat: