Ahead of President Obama’s anticipated announcement Wednesday evening of his plans to draw down U.S. troops in Afghanistan, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) expressed support for the decision. But he said the plan must be based on the recommendations of military and diplomatic officials on the ground.
“I have not been briefed on what the president’s going to do,” Boehner said Wednesday morning at a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters. “I’m not sure the president’s decided what he’s going to do. But I’ve said this many times: If the president listens to the commanders on the ground and our diplomats in the region and makes a decision, I’ll be there to support him. Success in Afghanistan is critically important.”
Members of both parties have become increasingly weary of the war effort as polls show greater public support for drawing down U.S. troops as quickly as possible. Obama is expected to announce that 10,000 troops will leave Afghanistan before the end of the year.
“Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle reflect the opinions and attitudes of their constituents, and the American people are a bit weary about Afghanistan, and you can’t blame them,” Boehner said. “You’ve got 100,000 of our men and women fighting in the desert over there.”
Boehner emphasized the objectives of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
“But remember why we’re there,” he said. “We’re there because the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan; they have provided safe haven to al-Qaeda, and as a result, al-Qaeda had safe ground on which to plan, train and execute attacks on Americans and our allies around the world. The goal here is to make sure that they don’t have that safe haven. And so, we’ve got some work to do, but clearly the success that General Petraeus outlined is in fact a success.”
Boehner added that he was “concerned about any precipitous withdrawal of our troops that would jeopardize the success that we’ve made.”