Kansas, Missouri Lawmakers Want Troops Home, But Are Wary Of Withdrawal From Syria | KCUR

Kansas, Missouri Lawmakers Want Troops Home, But Are Wary Of Withdrawal From Syria

Dec 21, 2018

Kansas and Missouri lawmakers on both sides of the party lines said they don't support President Donald Trump's sudden announcement that he would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. 

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, told KCUR he has concerns that this could leave the Middle East in a compromised position.

"You whack a mole in the head and another mole pops up. That's what's going to happen with ISIS going forward," Marshall said. "So my question for the president, the security council and the Pentagon is how are we going to continue to control terrorists?"

He added that he's "warming up to the concepts better today than I was yesterday, as the president has shared more of his plans with us."

Before making the announcement, Trump tweeted Wednesday that ISIS had been defeated. 

Marshall said he believes this.

"The great news is, we have annihilated ISIS as far as any type of a geographical stronghold. The only thing I can see that's left of ISIS is some type of underground comunity in Afghanistan," Marshall said.

U.S. officials are also considering reducing troops in Afghanistan. Trump's secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, resigned Thursday over disagreements with Trump's foreign policy.

Outgoing Rep. Kevin Yoder, also a Kansas Republican, called the decision premature, adding that he doesn't believe ISIS is defeated. He said the president should have first consulted with Congress and commanders in the field, who Yoder said would likely not be in favor of withdrawing. 

Though he supports the overall goal of bringing troops back from overseas, Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri had harsh words for the president's decision, which he called short-sighted and a "slap in the face" to U.S. allies and Syrian civilians.

And Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri told KCUR he's very concerned.

"It's not good for our friends, and it is good for our enemies," he said. "(Syrian President Bashar)Assad, Russia and Iran. They are the winners in this decision."

Blunt called attention to the fact that Trump seems to be reverting to positions he took during his 2016 presidential campaign.

"ISIS is not nearly what it was when the president became president," Blunt said. "But it's not as eliminated as you would want it to be."

He said the withdrawal of U.S. troops could quickly undo this progress.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @andreatudhope.