BOISE, Idaho -- BringOurTroopsHome.US
, a national organization led by Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, Friday urged President Trump to follow the example of NATO ally France, which announced it is withdrawing all French troops from Iraq.
"The chief of staff of the French armed forces said in a statement Wednesday night," according to the Associated Press, "that France is suspending its anti-terrorism training operations in Iraq and also bringing home its Iraq-based troops involved in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group."
Earlier this week, the veterans organization launched an online petition and video urging President Trump to keep his 2016 campaign pledge to also bring U.S. troops home from the Middle East, starting with 30,000 National Guard troops the group said should be immediately returned to their home states to help protect Americans from the Chinese corona virus pandemic.
Sgt. Dan McKnight, founder of BringOurTroopsHome.US
and a U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and active duty Army veteran who served eighteen months in Afghanistan with the Idaho Army National Guard, said he doesn't doubt the sincerity of President Trump's campaign pledge, but said "the clear and present danger to Americans here at home provides the ultimate justification to immediately follow our NATO allies in France and finally bring our troops home as well, and that threat should certainly force his hand to keep that promise now."
"Thirty thousand. That’s the number of National Guard troops from across America that are deployed outside of the continental United States," McKnight says in the video. "Many of them are fighting in other people’s endless civil wars, trying to play policeman to the world, away from their homes and their families and their jobs, giving their lives to a two-decade old, eight trillion dollar war that is bankrupting America."
(Click to watch video
"It must end now," he continues in the video. "Because where should these 30,000 American National Guards men and women be? Home. Keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe. Delivering emergency food, water, and medical care. Building testing stations and temporary health care facilities. Guarding our hospitals, our food, and our medical supplies. Putting America first. Putting our people first. Sign our petition at www.BringOurTroopsHome.US
. Tell President Trump to bring our 30,000 National Guard troops home now."
McKnight said the video promoting the group's petition drive was e-mailed to 13,000 media outlets nationwide, over 10,000 members and staff of Congress, over 5,000 state legislators, and thousands more Americans who have already contacted BringOurTroopsHome.US to express support since the group's founding a year ago. It was also distributed by Facebook advertising and other social media.
McKnight said bringing U.S. troops home to help fight the growing public health pandemic "is not only the right thing to do for Americans' public health and safety, period, but something President Trump's base expects of him if he expects to be reelected."
He pointed to a new Tarrance Group poll released Monday (read news release
), which found that among Trump supporters in three key, previously Democratic "blue wall" swing states -- Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which gave Trump the White House in 2016 -- 86 percent support the President's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, 62 percent support withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and 58 percent support withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
McKnight said the poll seems to validate a 2017 study (read study
) by Boston University and the University of Minnesota, which concluded that Trump's pledge as a candidate to bring U.S. troops home was key to his winning the three Midwestern swing states, where researchers found "a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump."
"Our statistical model suggests that if three states key to Trump’s victory – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin – had suffered even a modestly lower casualty rate, all three could have flipped from red to blue and sent Hillary Clinton to the White House," the study concluded. "If Trump wants to win again in 2020, his electoral fate may well rest on the administration’s approach to the human costs of war."
A YouGov poll (read poll
) in January found that nearly 70 percent of all Americans also support withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
McKnight also said resolutions urging the President to bring U.S. troops home approved this month by state legislative bodies in two strongly Republican states -- the Idaho House of Representatives counts 56 Republicans and 14 Democrats, and the West Virginia House, 58 Republicans and 41 Democrats -- is a sign of growing support on the right for ending the two-decade old Bush-Cheney policy, continued under President Obama, of trying to export Western-style democracy to Islamic countries.
On that point, McKnight's efforts have won agreement from a nationally powerful member of his own state's Congressional delegation, Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Risch, responding to a question from McKnight during a question-and-answer session before the Boise Chamber of Commerce, said he agreed with the Idaho veteran's objectives. (Watch Risch Video
"I agree with you." Risch said. "Let me tell you why I share your feelings," he said, recounting America’s success at building viable democracies in post-war Germany, Japan, and South Korea.
“We’ve been at this now for over two decades," Risch said, "trying to replicate that success in the Middle East, and what do we have to show for it? A goose egg. …If you’re going to give somebody a gift of democracy, a free market system, human rights, of basic rights stated in our Bill of Rights and Constitution, they’ve got to want it, and if they don’t want it, it doesn’t matter how much you shovel at them, it isn’t going to happen.”
“We’ve spent $2 trillion now in Afghanistan," Risch said, "and we’ve shed lots and lots of American blood there. I’m with you. I am through trying to do nation-building with countries that don’t want it. They’ve got to show some type of an appreciation, some type of an embracement of it, and they simply don’t.”
McKnight said BringOurTroopsHome.US will continue to support President Trump's promised efforts to end U.S. military involvement "in other people's civil wars, which some evidence suggests is what won him the 2016 election, and push him to recognize that he will never have a more perfect opportunity to keep that pledge than right now, when we're facing the most serious public health challenge of our lifetimes."
He said the group will contact Americans who sign the petition to mobilize additional pressure on the White House to follow France's example and bring U.S. troops home now.