Senate Armed Services Chair: Afghanistan isn’t Iraq

William Douglas

For those who point to the deteriorating situation in Iraq as a harbinger of things to come in Afghanistan once the U.S. military presence is significantly downsized there, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin delivered a message Friday: Nonsense.

Levin, D-Mich., voiced his support Friday for President Barack Obama’s decision to send 300 military advisers to Iraq and scoffed at lawmakers and experts who’ve predicted that Afghanistan will meet the same violently chaotic fate as Iraq once the last America’s military pulls up stakes.

Last month, President Barack Obama announced plans to withdraw all but 9, 800 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. By the end of 2016, only a small military presence will remain.

‘These situations are so totally different that I don’t think I have the time to enumerate all the differences,’ Levin told reporters. ‘You don’t have a Sunni-Shia historical, major, explosive, violent difference in Afghanistan the way you do in Iraq. In Afghanistan, you have an army of 380,000 Afghanis who are a united army, they’ve shown a willingness to fight against a common enemy, the Taliban. We have years and years of progress now in Afghanistan. You’ve had an election that, so far, has been successful, which has been protected by the Afghan army.’

But some hawks in Congress aren’t convinced. ‘Mr. President, recalculate your decision on Afghanistan,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday. ‘If you pull all our troops out, the Taliban will regroup, the Afghan army will meet a terrible fate and the people who wish us harm will be coming back our way.’

By William Douglas
McClatchy Washington Bureau