Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., allied himself with the White House and those calling for a swift exit from Afghanistan on Tuesday.
“I write to express my support for President Trump’s plan for the prompt withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan,” Hawley wrote to the acting Defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller. “The costs of the war in Afghanistan continue to mount, and they are borne disproportionately by working Americans. … For these reasons, majorities of Americans, including veterans of the war itself, have long called for an end to the war in Afghanistan. Yet most of our nation’s policymakers have ignored them.”
Hawley’s signaling is significant because it runs counter to the political assault on the Hill by Republicans to stop President Trump’s plot to exit from the troubled theater in his administration’s closing days. On Monday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed, in no uncertain terms, his vociferous opposition to a further drawdown: “A rapid withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm.”
McConnell was joined by Michael McCaul, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, among others, in expressing his displeasure with recent developments in President Trump’s national security team. An embattled Trump has suddenly cleaned house at the Pentagon, in a maneuver widely described as essentially outlaw.
Trump’s moves at DoD are seen as part score-settling – and part delivering on a major campaign promise. If he sticks the landing, Trump’s acolytes insist drawing down further in Afghanistan cracks the door open still wider for a potential 2024 repeat run.