Graham says US ‘will be going back’ to Afghanistan
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), a leading Republican voice on foreign policy matters, predicted during an interview with the BBC on Monday that the United States “will be going back into Afghanistan” to quell what he predicts will be a growing terrorist threat.
Graham is skeptical of President Biden’s pledge that the threat posed by the Islamic State affiliate based in Afghanistan and other militant groups can be kept in check with an “over the horizon” approach that relies heavily on drone air strikes.
“We will be going back into Afghanistan,” Graham predicted. “We’ll have to because the threat will be so large.”
He warned that Afghanistan will become “a cauldron for radical Islamic behavior,” despite assurances from Taliban leaders that they will not allow the country to become a safe haven for groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS like it was before the 9/11 attacks, which prompted the U.S. to invade 20 years ago.
He predicted that the Taliban are “going to give safe haven to al Qaeda who has ambitions to drive us out of the Mideast writ large and attack us because of our way of life.”
“We will be going back into Afghanistan as we went back into Iraq and Syria,” he added.
He said Biden’s choice is to either let the threat fester or “hit them before they hit you.”
Biden told the nation last month that U.S. forces will be able to keep terrorists in check without a permanent military presence in Afghanistan.
“We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have a permanent military presence,” he said on Aug. 16. “If necessary, we will do the same in Afghanistan. We’ve developed counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region and to act quickly and decisively if needed.”
Polls show little public appetite for sending a large force back to Afghanistan.
A Pew Research Center study conducted from Aug. 23 to Aug. 29 showed that 54 percent of American adults supported the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan while 42 percent thought it was wrong.
The same survey showed that 69 percent of respondents thought the United States failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan, despite Biden’s claims that the nation did achieve them. Only 27 percent agreed with Biden that U.S. military and diplomatic forces had achieved their goals.