Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) expressed support for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in a letter on Tuesday to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.
President Trump will reduce troop levels in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller confirmed Tuesday, one day after a number of outlets broke the story. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, following the attacks on the World Trade Center, to remove the country’s Taliban leaders from power and deny the terrorist group Al-Qaeda a safe haven.
“In the aftermath of 9/11, it was imperative that we destroyed al Qaeda and punished the Taliban,” Hawley wrote in his letter. “But those objectives have long since given way to a broader nation-building mission in the region. This is a mistake.”
Hawley wrote that the U.S. military’s counter-terrorism operations are strong enough to tackle threats without being present in Afghanistan itself.
The “families and communities” of working Americans “have been hurt most as policymakers in Washington sent hundreds of billions—if not trillions—of their hard-earned tax dollars to Afghanistan, instead of investing that money here at home,” Hawley added. “They deserve to see their tax dollars actually being used to defend them—from Chinese domination, above all—or reinvested at home.”
Around $19 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds for government projects in Afghanistan have been lost to waste or fraud between 2009 and 2019, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. As of 2020 SIGAR has reviewed $63 billion in taxpayer funds for Afghanistan reconstruction, meaning 30 percent of those funds has been wasted.
While the president has long advocated a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, other Republicans were not supportive of the move.
“A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on Monday. Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) commented, “The concern would be it would turn into a Saigon-type of situation where it would fall very quickly and then our ability to conduct operations against terrorist elements in the region could be compromised.”