WASHINGTON - Republican presidential hopefuls yesterday agreed on the need to bring back the US troops from Afghanistan, but differed on the timing with some saying they will ensure it "as soon as possible" after coming to power. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is currently leading poll ratings and won the Iowa Caucus, wants to bring back the troops "as soon as possible" but based on the feedback from the generals on the ground.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who this week was endorsed by Boston Globe, said he would bring back all the troops from Afghanistan in the first year of his presidency. Rick Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania who is giving a tough challenge to Romney, said that he would bring back the troops from Afghanistan until America's security is ensured.
Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said that Afghanistan is part of the gigantic mess in the region right now. President Barack Obama has said he wants to hand over the security in Afghanistan to local forces by 2014, and presence of US troops there after that depends on the Afghan government.
"I would say within the first year of my administration, which is to say the end of 2013, I would want to draw them down. I want to recognize Afghanistan for what it is. It is not a counter insurgency. I don't want to be nation building in Southwest Asia when this nation is in such need of repair," Huntsman said.
"We want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can. And Governor Huntsman says at the end of 2013; the president and the commanders are saying they think 2014 is a better date. We'll get a chance to see what happens over the coming year. We want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can," Romney said.
"But I can tell you this, I don't want to do something that would put in jeopardy much of the hard earned success which we've had there. I would bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, of course, based upon my own experience there, going there, informing myself of what's happening there and listening to the commanders on the ground," Romney said.
Santorum warned of a civil war if the US immediately came out of Afghanistan. "Let's just wait the next few weeks and months and see how things turn out when the United States isn't there and see how consequential our efforts are -- were for the stability of that region..," he said, adding that he will wait until the security of the US is ensured. (PTI)