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GOP Senators eviscerate Trump’s abrupt Syria exit; ‘huge Obama-like mistake’

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
December 20, 2018

President Trump’s decision this week to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria has left many shocked and critical of the move, including from those within his own party.

After the news was released of Trump’s announcement, Republican members of Congress slammed the President’s decision, taking to statements and television interviews to air their remarks.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been a close supporter of Trump, referred to the decision as an “Obama-like mistake.”

“An American withdrawal at this time would be a big win for ISIS, Iran, Bashar al Assad of Syria, and Russia,” Graham wrote in a statement, according to NBC News on Wednesday. “I fear it will lead to devastating consequences for our nation, the region, and throughout the world.”

Graham, along with senators Jeanne Shaheen, Joni Ernst, Angus King, Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, all signed a letter to President Trump urging him to reconsider his decision to withdraw.

“If you decide to follow through with your decision to pull our troops out of Syria, any remnants of ISIS in Syria will surely renew and embolden their efforts in the region,” the letter said. “Your administration must not repeat the same mistakes that previous administrations have made and concede to these bad actors.”

Rubio referred to it as “a bad decision” with the potential to expose the U.S. to further risks.

“I just think it’s a bad decision that eventually will lead to greater risk for the United States,” he said. “I’m all for peace. I would love to live in a world in which U.S. deployment of service men and women abroad were not necessary. That’s not the world we live in.”

“The decision to pull out of Syria was made despite overwhelming military advice against it,” Rubio said in a tweet. “It is a major blunder. [If] it isn’t reversed it will haunt this administration & America for years to come.”

Sen. Cory Gardner suggested that ISIS could become emboldened since the group is not not eradicated from Syria.

“The US is the only global power able to stop Russia, Iran, & their terrorist proxies in Syria from total control of a region vital to national security. We’ve made significant progress in our fight against ISIS but the fight isn’t over, & a US withdrawal will embolden bad actors,” he said in a tweet.

Sen. Ben Sasse, who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a withdrawal would result in the slaughter of U.S. allies.

“Eight days ago the Administration called a hypothetical pullout ‘reckless.’ Today, we’re leaving. The President’s generals have no idea where this weak decision came from: They believe the high-fiving winners today are Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah,” he said. “The losers are Israel, humanitarian victims, and U.S. intelligence gathering. A lot of American allies will be slaughtered if this retreat is implemented.”

Shortly after news of the decision broke, Trump tweeted and declared victory over ISIS.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” he said.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger slammed Trump’s declaration as “simply not true.”

He later told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I’m speechless today. I have tried to process this, what led to this … This makes no sense to me. I cannot put anything into words about why this makes any sense.”

The Pentagon confirmed later on Wednesday that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Syria, noting that the fight against ISIS is still ongoing.

“The #Coalition has liberated ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against #ISIS is not over,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White tweeted. “We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from #Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign.”

Sen. Rand Paul was one of the rare politicians to support Trump’s decision.

“I think it takes courage to do this because there’s a million naysayers on both sides of the aisle that always want to remain and that’s why we’re everywhere,” he said. “We have troops in so many countries, we’re fighting everywhere because no one knows how to declare victory. So I’m very supportive of the president’s declaration. I’m very supportive of bringing the troops home.”

Another source of support came from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Donald’s right, and I agree with him,” Putin said during his annual news conference on Thursday. He noted that U.S. troops were not intended to be in Syria and their presence there is “illegal.”