President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE told a group of Republican senators Wednesday evening that he is sticking with his plan to draw down U.S. forces in Syria and Afghanistan, marking a new era in American foreign policy.
Trump’s call to stick with his controversial decision to pull out of Syria and dramatically reduce forces in Afghanistan was praised by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFauci overwhelmed by calls after journal published mistake over beagle experiments McConnell looks for way out of debt ceiling box Senators make bipartisan push to block 0M weapons sale to Saudis MORE (R-Ky.), a libertarian conservative who has long criticized American foreign policy for relying too much on military intervention.
“I really am proud of the president for making an argument that really no president in recent history has made and that is that we’ve been at war too long in too many places and he’s really going to make a difference,” Paul said after meeting with Trump at the White House.
Trump met one-on-one with Paul and then had a subsequent meeting with a larger group of Republican senators, including Paul and Sens. John CornynJohn CornynMental health: The power of connecting requires the power of investing Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Cornyn says he 'would be surprised' if GOP tries to unseat Sinema in 2024 MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRepublicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Rubio: Dropping FARC from terrorist list threatens Colombians, US security This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE (Fla.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstBiden picks former Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield to Iowa's USDA post Biden has just 33 percent approval rating in Iowa poll Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' MORE (Iowa), Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanMan charged with threatening Alaska senators pleads not guilty China conducts combat readiness drill after US congressional delegation arrives in Taiwan Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' MORE (Alaska) and Mike RoundsMike RoundsOvernight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' Republicans press Milley over perceived progressive military agenda Jean Rounds, wife of South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, dies from cancer MORE (S.D.).
“Not only is he following through with his Syria policy, I really do think there will be changes in Afghanistan as well,” Paul said. “If you look at the polling data for the American people, I think the American people are with the president and they’re tired, frankly, of both parties who are unwilling to stand up and say enough is enough.”
To back up his position, Trump pointed out how much U.S. taxpayers have spent on “gas stations, luxury hotels” and other projects in Afghanistan, Paul said.
Asked about Trump’s Afghanistan policy, Paul said “in general the idea is we’re going to do things differently.”
“We’re not going to stay forever. The Afghans will need to step up. The Afghans will need to begin fighting their own wars and taking care of their country,” Paul said. “It’s not that we’ll do nothing. I think the president still will help them. I think we’ll still actually probably be there longer than I would like to be."
“But the president, I think, is willing to acknowledge that America’s longest war needs to come to a close and that we need to learn how to declare victory,” he added.
Trump shocked Republicans on Capitol Hill last month when he announced he would withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria, declaring in a video “We have won against ISIS,” referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and “our boys, our young women, our men — they’re all coming back, and they’re coming back now.”
On Wednesday, four Americans on a patrol were killed in Syria in a suicide bombing. ISIS took credit for the attack.
National security adviser John Bolton contradicted the president earlier this month by saying during a trip to Israel that certain “objectives” must be met before troops leave Syria, and acknowledged that some ISIS forces remain active.
Bolton said that ISIS must be destroyed and the safety of Kurdish allies guaranteed before U.S. forces leave.
The Trump administration also announced last month that it would begin withdrawing about 7,000 troops from Afghanistan — about half the number deployed to the region.
“I will tell you that if you look at his language and his tweets on endless war and you hear him talk about how long this has gone on, I think you’re really seeing one of the extraordinary things that people couldn’t figure out: How did Donald Trump get elected? It was because he doesn’t fit neatly in a box. He was a different kind of Republican who actually looked at the issues of war and said, ‘You know what? We ought to think of America first,’ ” Paul said.
Paul declined to reveal any specifics Trump shared about his timelines for withdrawal.
“We talked extensively about Syria. He talked about how we will continue to make sure that ISIS is not a problem but at the same time, we will not just go into theater and stay forever. I think he was steadfast in that,” Paul said.