WASHINGTON: “Tell Washington it’s time to bring our troops home,” says a new anti-war campaign launched in the US capital and three swing states this weekend.
This multimillion-dollar ad blitz is aggressive and has been launched by a conservative veterans’ group, which has many supporters among those who are likely to vote for President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
But this time the Concerned Veterans for America is focusing on policy makers in Washington and voters in three battleground states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. These are called swing states because they are neither solidly Republican nor Democrat and play a decisive role in the presidential election.
“Now, more than ever, is the time to get serious about withdrawing our troops from unnecessary conflicts and mismanaged entanglements,” says an ad aired in the target areas. “Keeping American troops in isolated military bases … is no longer critical to our security.”
The campaign points out that America still has “roughly 14,000 troops in harm’s way” in Afghanistan where 2,400 Americans troops have been killed since 2001.
The Afghan war “has no clear path to victory” and has cost American taxpayers an estimated one trillion dollars, the campaign adds.
The ads promote a clear objective: an immediate end to the 18-year old war and a complete withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.
The move can be effective as it targets a vulnerable spot in Mr Trump’s reelection effort, and because the president already supports this objective. Mr Trump promised to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan in his 2016 election campaign and never tired of pushing for it after his election.
The veterans, however, thought this was the right time to push for the pullout as Americans and the Taliban appear close to finalising a peace deal and they want a schedule for troop pullout included in the deal.
But during his visit to Washington last week, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi warned that a rapid withdrawal could have “disastrous consequences” for the entire region.
“You did this in the 1980s. You were there, and you left. Do not repeat the 80s,” he said while speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Friday.
“We feel that this time, even if there’s a successful agreement, challenges will remain there,” he said. “So, the United States and its coalition partners will have to have a more responsible withdrawal.”
Policy makers in Kabul also have said that a rapid, and unplanned, pullout can push Afghanistan back into yet another crisis. Both Pakistani and Afghan governments want the United States remain engaged, “not to fight but to rebuild,” as Mr Qureshi said.