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Acting Defense Secretary Announces Afghanistan, Iraq Troop Withdrawal Plans

Nov. 17, 2020 (EIRNS)—Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, in his first appearance in the Pentagon press briefing room, today announced plans to draw down U.S. troops to 2,500 each in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I am formally announcing that we will implement President Trump’s orders to continue our repositioning of forces from those two countries,” he said. “This is consistent with our established plans and strategic objectives; supported by the American people; and does not equate to a change in U.S. policy or objectives.”

“Moreover, this decision by the President is based on continuous engagement with his national security Cabinet over the past several months, including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government,” Miller continued.

“I have also spoken with our military commanders and we will execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women, our partners in the Intelligence Community and diplomatic corps, and our superb allies that are critical to rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi security capabilities and civil society for a lasting peace in troubled lands.”

Miller’s announcement constituted President Donald Trump’s override of the hysterical opposition he has run into from the military-industrial complex, for the entire four years of his Presidency to date, to end the “perennial wars.” Leaks of the plans to media outlets yesterday had already triggered a fierce response in opposition, reactions which continued today, particularly from Republicans in the U.S. Congress. “A premature U.S. withdrawal would not only jeopardize the Afghan government’s ability to negotiate, but would endanger U.S. counterterrorism interests,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX), the outgoing ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, in a statement.

“The U.S.-Taliban agreement is conditions-based for a reason—the Taliban cannot be permitted to not fulfill their commitments while we fulfill ours. We need to ensure a residual force is maintained for the foreseeable future to protect U.S. national and homeland security interests and to help secure peace for Afghanistan.”

Perhaps the most over-the-top response, however, came from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who compared President Trump’s plans for troop drawdown in Afghanistan to the chaotic end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

“The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011. ... It would be reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975. We’d be abandoning our partners in Afghanistan,”

McConnell said. He credited the Trump administration with gains made during the past four years, arguing that the United States was playing a “limited but important role” and that drawing down troops would “embolden the Taliban.” McConnell added that while all wars must end, as President Trump has insisted, “nothing about the circumstances we face today suggest that if we lose resolve, the terrorists will simply leave us alone.”

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