Defense Contractor Campaign Recipients Stephen Lynch, Seth Moulton Oppose Troop Withdrawals In Afghanistan and Iraq

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President Donald Trump wants to bring troops home from the Middle East, but two members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation oppose the move.

Both of those Congressmen have taken substantial campaign donations from defense contractors over the years.

The Trump administration will reportedly reduce troop levels to 2,500 in both Afghanistan and Iraq by mid-January, as The Associated Press reports. Currently, there are about 4,500 troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq.

Reducing American military presence in those two countries has drawn opposition from U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston), and U.S. Representative Seth Moulton (D-Salem). Lynch has received $69,500 in political action committee donations from the defense industry since 2001 while Moulton has received $180,189 since 2013, according to Open Secrets. 

Lynch explained his opposition to President Trump’s order to CBS Boston’s Jon Keller on Sunday morning, November 22:


Well, first of all, we’re at a very delicate point in our negotiations with the Taliban. We’re very concerned about the status of women and girls in Afghanistan. There are also major offensives going on right now in Kandahar Province almost to the point where the Taliban are at the doorstep of Kandahar city. Also in Helmand province, there’s a major surge going there as well. So, you know, we’re seeing a lot of casualties among the government forces in Afghanistan, so this is a very precarious time right now and by signaling that we’re coming out no matter what happens, I think we encourage the Taliban to pursue a military victory there, and that would be disastrous for the civilian population and the current government and the military forces and police in Afghanistan that are trying to provide a stable government. 

So, it’s a very bad message to send. It also puts the new administration, the Biden administration, in a very difficult position as well in trying to re-stabilize, if you will, the situation on the ground there. So I think the president’s decision was made against the best advice of his military leaders I know that our allies there, remember we asked people to join us in Afghanistan — so the Brits, the Canadians, the Czechs, the French — we’ve got a lot of people on the ground there and now, we’re pulling out and they’re very upset that we’ve sort of gone back on our word and we’re doing this in a very, very sudden manner that really isn’t measured by the facts on the ground. It’s really measured by political considerations on the part of the departing president.


Additionally, Moulton and U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller voicing their opposition to the troop reductions.

In their letter, they call the move “ill-advised”:


We believe that there is strong bipartisan support from Congress and the Administration for both Iraq and Afghanistan. Any premature drawdown without thoughtful consideration of the real-world conditions on the ground would be ill-advised. Additionally, we continue to be concerned by the growing ISIS activity in Afghanistan and Iran’s influence in Iraq. Intelligence shows that both issues are destabilizing factors in a critical region, and minimizing our military and diplomatic footprint allows malign forces to fill the vacuum we create.


Moulton, a former U.S. Marine, did four tours in Iraq during the War on Terror.

Ending the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is a popular stance with the American public. When asked, 74 percent of Americans say they want to bring the troops home from Iraq, and 76 percent want to do the same in Afghanistan, according to The National Interest.

The United States has had troops in Afghanistan since October 2001 and Iraq since March 2003, beginning with the second Iraq War. American deaths in the War on Terror exceed 7,000, including more than 2,300 in Afghanistan alone, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. The War on Terror has cost the country more than $6.4 trillion, according to CNBC.

Raytheon, which could not be reached for comment on Sunday or Monday, is the top contributor to both candidates. Moulton has received at least $25,000 in PAC contributions from them while Lynch has received at least $31,500.

The offices for Congressman Lynch and Congressman Moulton also could not be reached for comment on Sunday or Monday.

This is not the first time either of the two opposed withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Moulton came out in favor of an amendment this past July that tried to block the United States from reducing the total number of U.S. troops in the country to below 8,000. There were 8,600 there at the time.

And in February 2020 when the Trump administration announced it wanted to end the Afghanistan War by April 2021, Moulton put out a statement condemning the statement:


Lasting peace is America’s goal in every conflict, and that often requires negotiating with our enemies. But I do not trust the Taliban, and they have given us little reason to believe we should. Reducing our troop levels to where we were in this forever war when Trump took office means little. What we need is a long-term strategy that Congress debates and approves, and the American public — and, most importantly, our troops — understand.

The right answer is to have a minimal counter-terror force in Afghanistan to keep our homeland safe from international terrorism, a real and persistent threat. That’s how we end this war and continue to keep Americans safe, regardless of whether the Taliban abide by this agreement.


Moulton opposes the troop withdrawals despite previously calling President Trump and John Bolton “chickenhawks,” according to Newsweek. It’s a term used to describe someone who is a war hawk despite avoiding military service.

As for Lynch, in September he opposed a plan from the Trump administration that would have withdrawn all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 2021.

“If the Taliban are unwilling or unable to abide by their commitments, or if political negotiations collapse, the resulting crisis would likely have gravec consequencesfor the Afghan people, regional stability, and international security,” Lynch said, according to Inside Defense. “While we are all eager for our sons and daughters in uniform to return home, it is also important that we do not needlessly or recklessly bargain away the rights and freedoms that the Afghan people have gained at such a huge cost in American, Coalition, and Afghan lives.”

Back in July, Annelle Sheline, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told New Boston Post in a telephone interview that ideally, one day, the public would view politicians taking money from defense contractors the same way they view politicians taking money from big tobacco.

“It’s important to understand the scope of the influence of the defense industry in Washington,” Sheline told New Boston Post. “Americans are tired of spending huge amounts of money abroad that could be better spent at home. And that money contributes to further destabilization, and it’s directly linked to the defense industry which benefits from de-stability and conflict.”

And at the time, John Blumenstiel, the membership director for the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party, said that Moulton’s opposition to bringing the troops home was yet another difference between the Green-Rainbow Party and the Democratic Party.

Blimenstiel, who says he does not speak on behalf of the Green-Rainbow Party, told New Boston Post in an email message that politicians taking money from defense contractors is the “tip of the iceberg.”

“When corporations, wealthy individuals and artificial entities (non-human) can bundle their financial resources through various organizational structures to influence elections, politicians and policy making, the individual human citizen and their collective voice loses its democracy,” Blumenstiel wrote. “We are now witnessing the consequence of ‘We the People’ losing their power; a dysfunctional federal government, consisting of two political parties which owe their allegiance to financial interests, not to the people themselves. When the people lose control of the institutions which should be organized to meet their needs, they take to the streets.”