GOP's 'elder statesman' James Baker praises Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal plan

James Baker III.
(Image credit: David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)

President Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal strategy received an unexpected endorsement Friday, Politico reports.

James Baker III, who served as chief of staff to former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as well as Reagan's treasury secretary and Bush's secretary of state, told his biographers Susan Glasser and Peter Baker (no relation) during a virtual event Friday that he supports Biden's plan to exit Afghanistan by or before Sept. 11, 2021 because "21 years is long enough." Baker, who Politico notes is considered an elder statesman in the GOP, said he's "always been one who felt that one sure way to doom a presidency is to commit to an endless conflict," adding that "you couldn't pick a tougher place to go and fight a land war" than Afghanistan.

Still, Politico writes, Baker's comments come as a bit of a surprise — Republican voters are mostly on board with the withdrawal, but GOP lawmakers have been more critical, especially those with more traditional GOP foreign policy views, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Baker would seemingly fall under that umbrella, as well, given that he supported both invasions of Iraq, and often favored the U.S. taking on an active role in geopolitics while advising Bush on foreign policy.

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At the same, he supported former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. On the surface, that would appear to be another reason why praise for Biden was unexpected, but Trump was similarly a proponent of leaving Afghanistan. Read more at Politico.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.