As the last of the “surge” troops leave Afghanistan, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for Mitt Romney to back an extended presence in Afghanistan. President Obama plans to bring all American troops home from Afghanistan by 2014. But Graham said that Romney should say he wants to keep U.S. troops there past that deadline.
The Hill reports:
They should, instead, pursue a war plan focused on “what we leave behind” in the country, not just ending the war as soon as possible, according to Graham.
“It’s about getting it right,” the South Carolina Republican said. Getting it right, he added, almost certainly means keeping U.S. forces in country past the administration’s deadline.
“On the first day of a Romney administration,” the presumed president-elect needed to call a meeting of the top U.S. commanders in Afghanistan and chart a different strategic course for the country, Graham said. “And if [they] need to change the timetable in Afghanistan, that is what we will do.”
Romney has so far avoided laying out a specific foreign policy plan, and an adviser said in May that the candidate would not “engage these issues until he is in office.” And while Romney has said he’ll stick with Obama’s withdraw plan, his Afghanistan plan has been muddled at best. Most recently, leading Republicans criticized him for failing to mention Afghanistan or the troops in his convention speech. However, distancing himself from Obama’s timetable is not only ill-conceived policy, but could hurt him politically as well; half the country wants Obama to speed up the withdrawal of troops. Taking this position would also put Romney at odds with most Republicans, who have mostly backed off supporting the war.