Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged President Obama not to repeat mistakes made in Iraq by leaving Afghanistan too quickly.
The senators said Obama should push for a condition-based drawdown of forces that would include a residual military presence in Afghanistan.
“We strongly urge President Obama to replace his plan for unconditional withdrawal from Afghanistan with a conditions-based drawdown and a clear commitment to maintaining a limited residual force,” McCain and Graham said on Tuesday.
“If the president repeats his mistakes from Iraq and withdraws all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, based on a certain date on a calendar,” they said, “we fear a similar failure will unfold in Afghanistan, as we have seen Iraq.”
The senators said they fear if Obama doesn’t take their advice, instability would increase in the region, harming partnerships and leading to U.S. national security threats.
Their comments came after Afghanistan President-elect Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah agreed to a national unity government. McCain and Graham commended the leaders for that effort, which was not as successful in Iraq.
“It is now essential for the national unity government to take immediate steps to enhance its democratic legitimacy, without which stability and security in Afghanistan cannot endure,” McCain and Graham said in their joint statement. “That means fulfilling the campaign pledges that led Afghans to vote in record numbers, especially better governance and fighting corruption.”
Currently, the Obama administration is trying to stabilize Iraq after pulling U.S. troops out of the country. That move has allowed the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to take control of swaths of land in the country. Graham and McCain have been critical of Obama’s handling of the Iraq War and have said they hope Obama learned from those mistakes for the sake of democracy in Afghanistan.