WASHINGTON – Potential presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is suggesting a faster timetable for pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan than the one laid out by President Barack Obama.
Obama plans to bring home next month the first batch of about 100,000 American servicemen currently in Afghanistan, with all combat troops leaving by 2014.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor who was Obama's ambassador to China, thinks that may not be fast enough because of the financial cost of the war and because of waning public support.
Huntsman said during an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that it's his "hunch" that Americans want to be "out of there are quickly as we can get it done."
HuffPost's Jon Ward reported on what Huntsman had to say about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan during a stop in New Hampshire last month:
When asked about the war in Afghanistan, he even managed to come back to how any change in U.S. policy would affect China. But he also appeared to claim some of the space in the primary previously occupied by [Mississippi Governor Haley] Barbour, who before he decided not to run had questioned the value of the nation’s troop commitment in Afghanistan. But he did so in the vaguest of terms.
“The deployments are mighty expensive,” he said. “We’ve got to ensure that going forward into our new world that we have a foreign policy that is an extension of our core national interests. And does that mean that we’re going to have to look at the map at some point and reset our level of engagement and our deployments in some corners of the world. Absolutely it does.”
He did call a drawdown “inevitable” and said there would likely be civil war in Afghanistan when a U.S. withdrawal created a vacuum. “And I’m not sure there’s a whole lot we can do about that,” he said, while also pointing out that such a conflagration would test China’s longstanding policy of nonintervention.
HuffPost's Amanda Terkel reported last week:
Opposition to the conflict is now mainstream, with the vast majority of the American public favoring a substantial drawdown of U.S. troops. With the death of bin Laden, the growing cost of operations and frustrated constituents, an increasing group of congressional lawmakers is also voicing concerns. Even within the Obama administration, there are reports of some aides pushing for a strong drawdown.
During a stop in New Hampshire on Saturday, Huntsman signaled he would soon make his plans known for the next election cycle.
"We need to check the family 'box,' to sit down with the family one last time," he said, according to Reuters. "You will be hearing something shortly."