President Barack Obama's very public timetable for exiting Afghanistan endangers hard-won security gains and leaves the next president with scant leverage to deal with unforeseen events in a volatile region, Rep. Adam Kinzinger tells Newsmax TV.
Arguing that there is "zero tactical advantage" to advertising a full troop withdrawal
in two years, Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, said of Obama, "I think he is more concerned with his legacy at the end of 2016 than he is with doing what's right for Afghanistan and for the United States of America."
Kinzinger, a member of House Foreign Affairs subcommittees on terrorism and the Middle East, spoke Wednesday with "America's Forum" guest host Ed Berliner about the need to remain engaged in a world that still looks to the United States for security and leadership.
"When you have the secretary of state
come out and say the United States of America is not retreating from the world, well, that shows that the world thinks we are retreating," Kinzinger said.
"Look, we don't want to be the world's police," he said. But he added, "When America retreats from the world, something's got to fill that vacuum. In the Middle East, it's been chaos and dictatorships and terrorism. In Asia it's been China filling that vacuum, and in Europe we've seen that vacuum filled by the Russians."
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Kinzinger said the retreat from Afghanistan — 32,000 troops to be cut to 9,800 and, finally, a residual training and security force — risks a repeat there of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since the U.S. left that country.
"I was shocked that he hasn't learned his lesson from Iraq," Kinzinger said of Obama.
He added that the next administration won't even get the same courtesy and strategic help that outgoing President George W. Bush extended to Obama.
"Why does the president feel the need to be the one making the decision to end America's war in Afghanistan versus giving that to the next president to make a strategic decision?" Kinzinger said. "That's what President Bush did in Iraq. He had a status-of-forces agreement . . . to allow the next president to make the decision."
Kinzinger dismissed another new announcement, of a $5 billion anti-terrorism fund
, as another attempt at damage control.
[It's the] "same with all the things you see from this administration to try and stop the bleeding, whether it's VA, whether it's Afghanistan, whether it's any foreign policy, 'red line' in Syria, all these blunders that they have done that they're now trying to recover from," he said.
Kinzinger said the administration's haplessness stems in part from what he called "a lack of belief in American exceptionalism."
"If you don't believe that we have a moral responsibility to lead the world because of all that we've been granted and given, then it's going to be hard to find a foreign policy," he said.
America's role is "to stand up for freedom around the globe, to be that shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan talks so aptly about, and to do ultimately what's in our national interest," said Kinzinger, arguing that Obama's focus instead is on polling and "how are we going to ensure that Democrats win the Senate and Hillary wins in 2016."
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