Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty warned against "the drift of the Republican Party toward what appears to be a retreat or a move more towards isolationism," according to an articlein Politico. Pawlenty also had criticism for President Obama, who's expected to announce a drawdown from Afghanistan.
In an hourlong interview, Pawlenty took a hawkish position at a time when prominent Republicans have publicly called for significant troop reductions and polls have shown increasing doubt among GOP voters that the conflict can be won. Pawlenty said he supported Obama’s 2009 troop surge but was “very disappointed that he also simultaneously announced the withdrawal deadline in the same speech.”
“It reflects a political thinking on his part, rather than allowing the conditions on the ground and a sharp definition of the mission to determine what we do next,” he said. “So I don’t think he should put arbitrary numbers and deadlines out there. I think you draw down the troops in Afghanistan as circumstances on the ground warrant.”
Pawlenty said he wants to hear more details about initial news reports that Obama will withdraw 33,000 troops by the end of 2012. He said “it’s very concerning” if Obama plans to take 10,000 or 20,000 combat troops out of the theater right away but less concerning if the number involves mainly support troops.
“I wouldn’t be overly anxious to get the troops out of there until we have enough stability and capacity within the Afghanistan security forces to take up the slack,” Pawlenty said. “We need to make sure we do not send the message that we are leaving just because we’re tired or just because it’s too difficult.”
In the same interview, Pawlenty tweaked fellow Republican Mitt Romney for not being clear about where he stands on the war in Afghanistan: “I don’t know how to interpret his comments during the [recent New Hampshire] debate... He walked them back post-debate in a couple of publications, so I’m not sure where he landed finally on that.”