Populist Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) wrote an op-ed on Saturday for the Washington Post charging that Democrats should applaud, not chastise, President Donald Trump’s planned withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. Khanna then urged to end America’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.
President Trump announced this week that he plans to withdraw from America’s ongoing conflict in Syria and continues to draft plans for a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In response to Trump’s planned withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan, which is in line with his America First foreign policy vision, Trump received significant criticism from the political establishment and Never Trump Republicans.
Never Trump pundit Erick Erickson suggested on Twitter Trump would face a “military coup” in a lesser country.
Congressman Khanna, who has called for a less interventionist foreign policy, said that Congressional Democrats should not “pile on” the president’s foreign policy discussions without offering an alternative vision.
We should applaud the president’s desire to put an end to these interventions, but should challenge him to assemble a team that does so with better planning and diplomacy. We should articulate a foreign policy doctrine of responsible withdrawal that prioritizes restraint and human rights.
The California Democrat noted that Trump’s withdrawal from Syria complies with both American and international law. Khanna said that before American engages militarily in Syria, Congress needs to authorize it, as per the Constitution.
“Before any administration official can advocate keeping troops in Syria to fight the Islamic State, Congress needs to offer authorization,” Rep. Khanna said.
Khanna said that Trump’s “instincts” on ending the war in Afghanistan were “spot-on” noting that America has spent more on the war in Afghanistan than the Marshan Plan.
Rep. Khanna explained:
In the case of Afghanistan, Trump announced that we will be reducing our troop level by 7,000. This is, fortunately, a reversal of his deployment of 3,000 troops there in September 2017. His instincts as a candidate of ending the war and bringing our troops home were spot-on.
We have spent more money in Afghanistan than we did in the Marshall Plan and continue to spend more than $40 billion each year. Our military approach has not worked. After the 2008 surge, the Taliban now exerts influence or maintains control over 70 percent of Afghan territory instead of just 40 percent.
Congressman Khanna then pivoted to America’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The Senate passed War Powers resolution last week which calls for the end of American assistance to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. A bipartisan populist coalition of Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) have led the charge for the resolution since March.
The House could not vote on a similar in December because lame-duck Speaker Paul Ryan attached a rule to the Conference Report on the 2018 Farm bill which prevented the House from voting on the Yemen resolution.
Khanna noted that Congress will pass the resolution in January once Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) likely becomes the next Speaker of the House. Trump said that the president should sign this resolution and stop Saudi Arabia’s bombing of ports and access to vital supplies.
Congressman Khanna charged, “The president should sign it and demand that Saudi Arabia stop bombing ports and allow Yemenis to access food and medicine.”
The California Democrat said that if America wants to continue leading in the 21st century, America should avoid its endless wars and revealed his conversation with President Trump.
I said, “Mr. President, China has not been in a war since 1979. If we want to win the race against them, we should not get bogged down in war.” He nodded and then observed that they have enriched themselves without firing a shot.
The California congressman said that America should reach across the aisle and push for a less interventionist foreign policy. For example, Rep. Khanna and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) have worked together on pushing for less intervention abroad.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who worked with Sanders and Murphy on the Yemen resolution, cheered President Trump’s planned withdrawal from Syria on Sunday.
I think people believe we’ve been at war too long, in too many places and we do need to turn attention to problems we have at home here, roads, bridges, schools. We have a lot of problems in our country, and people are tired of spending —we spent several trillion dollars on these wars everywhere, and the president promised he would be different. It’s one of the reasons he won because he actually attracts independence who aren’t beholden to either party who say why don’t we turn attention back to America?”
I am not pollyannaish about the deep partisan battles that divide us. But when it comes to ensuring that America remains the global leader, with all that implies for freedom and democracy, let us take inspiration from Adams and find common ground in a foreign policy of greater restraint, one that would entail responsibly extricating ourselves from bad wars.
Khanna concluded, “Let us focus on developing our capabilities and talents here at home to be a model for the world.”