Tennessee Congressional Delegation Split on Trump’s Afghanistan Decision Along Partisan Lines

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Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Republican Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann released statements in support of President Trump’s decision to keep troops in Afghanistan.

Trump announced his decision Monday evening in a televised address. His decision is likely to disappoint some conservatives because he campaigned on pulling out of Afghanistan.

“My original instinct was to pull out — and, historically, I like following my instincts,” Trump said in his address. “But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

Trump said that, as happened with the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011,  “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the following in a statement:

I had the opportunity to talk with Secretary Tillerson in advance of this evening’s address, and while I look forward to receiving additional details, I support the direction President Trump laid out tonight for the U.S. role in Afghanistan. While there are certainly substantial questions about whether Afghanistan has the capacity over time to provide stable governance to its people, this more focused plan provides the U.S. military with the flexibility it needs to help the Afghan military regain momentum. It also utilizes a conditions-based approach for our military, which should lead to better diplomatic outcomes, and ensures engagement with regional partners, especially Pakistan and India, giving us a better opportunity for success.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) said :

President Trump’s remarks tonight outlined a strategy that has been sorely missing in our fight against terrorism around the world. Setting conditions-based rather than time-based goals, the President has changed the rules of engagement to ensure that American leadership will result in an honorable and enduring outcome. I applaud the President’s commitment to listening to his military commanders, eradicating terror and ensuring the safety of the American people while understanding American might alone will not achieve these goals. The President laid out a measured and balanced approach that employs the economic, diplomatic, and military resources needed to get the job done once and for all.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-4) said:

As the president said, a political solution in Afghanistan is predicated on victory on the battlefield, not artificial timetables or other restraints on our troops that embolden the same enemies who attacked us on 9/11. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and also ISIS gained important territory under the previous administration, but must never have a safe haven in Afghanistan, Pakistan or anywhere in the region. The results would be dire.  We have the best military, as well as strong allies who will help keep America safe and end the war with honor.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-3) said:

Last night, the President presented a thoughtful course of action that showed he is tackling the challenges of our nation head on. President Trump’s regional approach is a welcome change from the sporadic policy implemented by the previous administration. The President’s plan, carefully constructed in consultation with top military leaders, is an initial step in providing vigilant direction to our men and women overseas. It is imperative that we foster positive relations with Afghanistan, and work in unison with the Afghan troops to assure that the Taliban never regains the slightest momentum in the ascent to power. I will continue to monitor this situation intently to make certain that the role of the United States in Afghanistan is one with realistic, achievable goals.

Democrat Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) released a statement against Trump’s plan, saying the president’s “nuanced speech did not contain any element that makes me believe that we will be successful in Afghanistan.” Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-5) said the decision represents Trump’s “biggest U-turn so far of his presidency.”

President Trump’s entire speech on Afghanistan can be read by clicking here.

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