Is It a Good Idea To Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan?

In his final weeks in office, President Trump is planning significant troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq. Military historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Ricks discusses whether or not this is a good idea.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Does it sound reasonable to draw down troops at this point, given the current conditions on the ground?

TOM RICKS, AUTHOR, “FIRST PRINCIPLES”: No, it doesn’t. You have a lame-duck president who only has got a few weeks left in office who seems to have stopped working entirely on his job. It’s a bad way to do it. The way it should be done is in coordination with the Afghan government. And if the Afghan government says, please leave behind at least a small anti-terrorism force to help us, a coordinating force, that has to be considered. And so you may not get what Trump is talking about. But I think it’s just bad medicine for him to try to be doing these things when he only has a couple of months left in office.

AMANPOUR: Let me just play just for you and our viewers to hear what even the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has said about this. It’s sort of a bipartisan rejection of this troop withdrawal that’s just been suddenly announced. Let’s just play what he said.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight, delight the people who wish us harm. The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011, which fueled, fueled the rise of ISIS and a new round of global terrorism.


AMANPOUR: Do you agree, Tom Ricks?

RICKS: I am surprised to say that, yes, for the first time in my life, I agree with Mitch McConnell, especially the point on the allies. This seems to me just one more way for Trump to antagonize NATO. He never seems to have understood what the purpose of NATO is. I don’t think he understands it, but then I don’t think he understands the U.S. Constitution either.

About This Episode EXPAND

Reporter Nima Elbagir gives a special report on Nigeria’s crackdown on peaceful protesters. El Paso’s mayor Dee Margo discusses the catastrophic COVID spike in West Texas. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas E. Ricks discusses his new book “First Principles.” Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias argues that when it comes to America’s population size, bigger is better.