Conservatives Need to Resist Urge to Reflexively Oppose Biden’s Afghanistan Policy by Brian Darling



Posted: Apr 14, 2021 11:28 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

There will be plenty of time for conservatives to oppose President Joe Biden on a myriad of issues including social issues, religious freedom, gun control, tax policy, government mandates and out of control spending. Conservatives who supported President Donald J. Trump’s call for ending the endless wars should hold Biden’s feet to the fire on his promise to pullout troops from Afghanistan by September 11th of this year. If Biden keeps that promise, then he will be forwarding Trump's foreign policy goal of an America First foreign policy.

Remember that a withdrawal by May 1, 2021 was a policy goal of President Trump who negotiated an agreement that, so far, is being largely respected by President Biden. Some conservatives have put aside partisanship to praise the president’s announcement. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) put out a statement where he argued, “for two decades we have believed our own propaganda that victory was in sight, about us turning the corner, etc while thousands of American service members and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians died.” Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) argued, “we need to bring our troops home.” William Ruger, President Trump’s most recent nominee to be Ambassador to Afghanistan, points out, “very few people outside of the Beltway elite don't support Afghanistan withdrawal. It has 70% support in the public and among vets/military families.” All of these conservatives are correct, yet there will be strong resistance with a splinter of the Republican Party that either opposes everything Biden does no matter what and the hawks who want to keep troops in Afghanistan forever.

The United States is facing continued threats to American citizens at home that do not emanate from Afghanistan. Most look at China as a threat to international stability with Russia a close second. International terrorism is another national security problem that needs to be addressed in a way that focuses on protecting American citizens from disruptive hacking and violent threats from abroad. Also, the U.S. is constantly upgrading missile defense to protect against intercontinental ballistic missile threats from multiple hostile nations. Just look at the recent news of Iran’s progress on nuclear enrichment for another source of heartburn. Pulling troops out of faraway Afghanistan to fight a distant war with shifting definitions of victory makes national security sense. 

There will be the voices on the right who will use this as an opportunity to do some foreign policy virtue signaling that they are tougher than Biden. Expect the usual fear mongering from the Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) wing of the party who will claim that Biden’s withdrawal will lead to another 9/11. They ignore the fact that, according to Stars and Stripes, about 2,300 American service members have died in Afghanistan for a war that nobody can define. We have about 2,500 of troops in Afghanistan today who are nothing more than targets for America-hating extremists in that country. The real threat to Americans stationed abroad is minimized by these tough talking politicians.

The advocates of forever war will say that Afghanistan will slide into civil war and the Taliban will take over again if we leave. Although that is not a good outcome and that may happen, the outcome of having American citizens in Afghanistan forever to be sitting ducks for radical terrorists is an even worse outcome. Our military is trained to fight – not to be a glorified police force for the world with no defined enemy to defeat.

The biggest challenge we will have is to keep Biden to his word. President Trump targeted May 1, 2021 as the date for troops to draw down and leave, yet that date has been moved to September 11th.  Backsliding and a shifting of the time line and definition of full withdrawal will be the real fight for America First conservatives. It is hard to trust President Joe Biden when he seems to shift his position on issues from day to day. On this one, the hope is that this Biden promise is a solid one that will be implemented and not slow walked with extensions and excuses.

There will be sufficient opportunity to rip the socialist-loving Democrats, but this is one of those issues where the core of both parties rank and file members support the president. Americans have polled over and over again that they want Afghanistan to come to a close after almost 20 years of fighting. Conservatives should praise Biden’s announcement and push hard to makes sure this is not another empty promise of a politician who has a hard time keeping them.

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