President Biden’s inept execution of his—and his predecessor’s—policy of withdrawal from Afghanistan was a political gift to the GOP. It has made foreign policy, at least temporarily, a unifying issue on the right. For conservatives, whether you supported or opposed withdrawal, Biden’s shambolic implementation has something for everybody to attack.
But there is a real divide on the right about foreign policy. It splits party leaders and right-wing pundits from rank-and-file voters, who are significantly more coherent and unified on foreign policy.
This fact has been obscured by the overriding imperative to support Donald Trump among conservative elites. Trump has been a passionate advocate of bugging out of Afghanistan and the Middle East generally, in and out of office.
But as Dina Smeltz of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Jordan Tama of American University noted in May, when it came to “America’s largest military deployments of recent years, Afghanistan and Iraq, there’s no sign that Trump substantially influenced Republican attitudes.”