Speaker Boehner Concerned Precipitous Withdrawal Would Jeopardize Success in Afghanistan

Jun 22, 2011 11:42am

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:

As President Obama prepares to speak to the nation Wednesday night in a primetime address on Afghanistan, House Speaker John Boehner says that while he is “concerned about any precipitous withdrawal of our troops that would jeopardize the success that we’ve made,” he would support the president’s judgment as long as he follows recommendations from commanders and diplomats in the region.

Asked whether he sensed that House Republicans were growing wary of the mission in Afghanistan, the speaker said that the sentiment of lawmakers “on both sides of the aisle reflect the opinions and attitudes of their constituents."

“The American people are a bit wary about Afghanistan, and you can’t blame them,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “You have 100,000 of our young men and women fighting in this desert over there, but remember why we’re there. We’re there because the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan, they had provided safe haven to al-Qaeda, and as a result, al-Qaeda had safe ground in which to plan, train and execute attacks on Americans and our allies around the world."

“The goal here is to make sure that they don’t have that safe haven, and so we’ve got some work to do, but clearly the success that General Petraeus outlined is in fact a success. We’re getting there, but we’ve got an awful lot invested here, and I’m concerned about any precipitous withdrawal of our troops that would jeopardize the success that we’ve made,” he added. “If the president listens to the commanders on the ground, and our diplomats in the region, makes a decision, I’ll be there to support him. Success in Afghanistan is critically important."

Boehner added that he has not been briefed by the White House on the president’s plans to reduce troop levels.

Pressed for details about what he and the president discussed during their hours golfing together Saturday, the speaker would not divulge any additional information, replying coyly: “Golf – that was it. Golf.”

Boehner announced Tuesday evening that the House of Representatives will take up a resolution later this week with the Kerry/McCain Libya language that authorizes the use of force in Libya, and also a second resolution that would “remove U.S. forces from hostilities in Libya.”

Asked this morning about Sen. John McCain’s fear that the GOP was returning to the party of isolationism in regards to Libya, Boehner said he and McCain want essentially the same thing and blamed the president for not adequately explaining the mission in Libya to the American people or Members of Congress.

“If you listen to what Senator McCain had said, and Sen. Graham – two friends of mine, and you’ve listened to what I and some others have said, we’ve said almost the same exact thing except that they’re pushing for authorization in Libya and I don’t think that’s where the House is,” Boehner said. “The fact is the president has not made his case to the members of Congress. He has not made his case to the American people. We’ve been in this conflict for 90 days, and the president hasn’t talked to the American people for four or five weeks about why we’re there, what our national interest is, and why we should continue."

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