All the while, however, American troops have been on their way out. And while Afghanistan continues to suffer horrific attacks like a May assault on a maternity ward in Kabul, there is little evidence that American voters, whose support for the war has long been waning, feel any less safe.
“Certainly there’s a political resonance for the notion that, after all these years, President Trump will end the war that other presidents were unwilling to end,” said Richard Fontaine, the chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based policy group.
Mr. Fontaine cautions against a withdrawal of troops, reminiscent of the American exit from Iraq in 2011, that could allow militants to rampage and terrorists to find safe haven as Al Qaeda did in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.
For now, that view has significant support in Congress. On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee voted 45 to 11 to approve a bipartisan amendment to an annual defense authorization bill that would restrict funds for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan below the level of 8,000.
One of the amendment’s co-sponsors, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, warned in a statement that “the U.S.-Taliban deal allows for premature troop withdrawal that is not conditions-based.”
A Senate effort from the opposite perspective met a swift rebuke the same day. Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and one of Congress’s leading noninterventionist voices, co-sponsored an amendment with Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, a Democrat, to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan within a year. The Senate voted 60 to 33 to table the amendment.
Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.
Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/02/us/politics/trump-afghanistan-russia-bounty.html