Mar 24 2021

Graham on Afghanistan

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the need for continued residual U.S. forces in Afghanistan until conditions on the ground improve.

“When it comes to Afghanistan, there never has been and never will be easy, win-win answers, but I do believe there’s an honorable and safe way forward. I’ve had very frank and positive discussions with the Biden Administration about a continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

“While I appreciate the Trump Administration creating a pathway forward between the Taliban and Afghan government regarding ending the war in Afghanistan, I’ve always been concerned about a May 1st deadline for troop withdrawal regardless of conditions on the ground. A non-conditions-based withdrawal is, in my view, ill-conceived, dangerous, and will lead to a renewed Afghan civil war. With this point of view in mind, I’ve urged the Biden Administration to make sure any withdrawal is based on conditions on the ground and does not allow the Taliban to reemerge as the dominant force in Afghanistan. We would all regret that outcome.

“This year is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Radical Islam is alive and well throughout the world, particularly in Afghanistan. It is my belief we can maintain stability in Afghanistan with a small residual force of U.S. forces and NATO members. The Taliban will only commit to true peace negotiations when they understand that we will not abandon the Afghan people nor leave the American homeland vulnerable to another attack. It is inconceivable to rely upon the Taliban to police al Qaeda and ISIS on behalf of America. They have neither the capability nor will, and it is imperative that we have a counterterrorism force remaining in Afghanistan to protect our interests.

“If there is a non-conditions-based withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the country would deteriorate into civil war. The Taliban would strongly reemerge in the south and the former Northern Alliance would reconstitute, leading to a deadly civil war that would be a blessing for radical Islamic groups like al Qaeda and ISIS.

“This can all be avoided by having NATO, partner nations and the United States show determination to keep a small residual counterterrorism force in Afghanistan and to continue working with Pakistan, with the Afghan government and the Taliban, to end the war honorably.

“This strategy will be difficult because the Taliban will return to attacking U.S. and allied forces to drive us out. The alternative is a withdrawal from Afghanistan that will lead to a much wider war. With Pakistan’s help, we can change the dynamic on the ground to achieve an honorable peace.

“I will do everything I can to help President Biden and his team maintain a residual force in Afghanistan to protect the American homeland from future 9/11s, and at the same time work with all the stakeholders to end the Afghan conflict honorably.”