McCain: If Trump Doesn’t Produce An Afghanistan Strategy, I Will


Written by Jonah Bennetton

GOP Sen. John McCain issued a statement Monday saying that he will produce a military strategy for Afghanistan in September, if President Donald Trump has no plan to offer.

“More than six months after President Trump’s inauguration, there still is no strategy for success in Afghanistan,” McCain said in a statement. “Eight years of a ‘don’t lose strategy has cost us lives and treasure in Afghanistan. Our troops deserve better.”

“When the Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act in September, I will offer an amendment based on the advice of some our best military leaders that will provide a strategy for success in achieving America’s national interests in Afghanistan,” he continued.

While McCain hasn’t yet proposed a solution, his statement indicates his intent to develop a legislative alternative in the absence of an actual plan from the Trump administration regarding U.S. interests in Afghanistan.

The Trump administration strategy promised in mid-July has not materialized, partly because of divided ideas about how to achieve U.S. interests in Afghanistan, given how much of the country is still in the hands of the Taliban, despite U.S. involvement there for 16 years. The Trump administration is examining the potential effects of withdrawing troops from the region advocated by White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, though that option is not favored by Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who have backed a surge of up to 4,000 troops

“It doesn’t work unless we are there for a long time, and if we don’t have the appetite to be there a long time, we should just leave. It’s an unanswered question,” a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal. “It is becoming clearer and clearer to people that those are the options: go forward with something like the strategy we have developed, or withdraw.”

McCain started receiving medical care for brain cancer Monday. Now that GOP Sen. Rand Paul successfully delayed the passage of the annual defense bill by forwarding two amendments on indefinite detention and war authorization against the Islamic State, McCain believes there is time for him to develop a coherent Afghanistan strategy to be added to the National Defense Authorization Act when the Senate comes back from recess in September.

At the time, McCain expressed frustration with Rand for delaying the NDAA.

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