McConnell: 'It's too late in Iraq' for additional troops but wants long-term presence Afghanistan

07/02/2014 04:16 PM

BARDSTOWN — As terrorism, violence and chaos continue in Iraq, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Wednesday that it might be too late for the U.S. military to re-engage there but that the United States needs a long-term presence in Afghanistan.

“At this point, honestly, I’m not sure what we can do to salvage the Iraq situation. The president is going to ask for additional funds and we’re going to provide that, but I think the message is let’s don’t allow to happen in Afghanistan what seems to have happened in Iraq,” McConnell told members of the Bardstown Rotary Club.

McConnell said President Barack Obama has fumbled the withdraw of troops from Iraq and now tensions and terrorists are spiraling out of control. McConnell said Obama should reconsider having a timeline in place for a troop withdraw in Afghanistan.

While the situation in Iraq seems dire, McConnell said the United States should not send more troops into the country saying “it’s too late in Iraq.”

McConnell recounted advice he gave to Obama on Afghanistan saying he should consider how the United States has exited previous conflicts in the past 50 years, saying there should be limited amount of residual American forces.

“If you look at what happened in Iraq as as a result of not having a residual presence behind not for combat, but think Germany, think Japan, think South Korea where we’ve been there for half a century it was very important to have a stabilizing force after the conflict,” McConnell told Pure Politics.

“In Afghanistan — looking at what happened in Iraq — rather than giving a date certain to remove the 10,000 or so troops that we’re going to have for the next couple of years, take off the date certain and think of it as a long term deployment of a limited number of troops…to train the Afghan army and have some people there for counter terrorism,” McConnell said. “In other words, don’t squander the gains that have been made at considerable loss of life and treasure over the last 10 years.”

About 32,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan. And Obama told reporters in May that number would be reduced to just under 10,000 after this year.

Obama said he wanted to withdraw the last of the combat troops from the country by the end of 2016.


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