Buttigieg, Warren pledge Afghanistan withdrawal even without Taliban peace deal

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Thursday went further than their previous pledges on Afghanistan by saying they would swiftly withdraw U.S. troops even without a peace deal with the Taliban.

The Democratic presidential candidates also said they would bring troops home quickly even if military leaders advised otherwise.

{mosads}“We have got to put an end to endless war. And the way we do it is see to it that that country will never again be used for an attack against our homeland and that does not require an open-ended requirement of ground troops,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, noted that Americans born after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks “could be 18 years old, old enough to serve, and have not been alive on 9/11.”

Warren, meanwhile, replied “yes” when asked if she would keep her promise to bring the troops home immediately, even if there were no deal with the Taliban.

“Yes, and I’ll tell you why. What we’re doing right now in Afghanistan is not helping the safety and security of the United States, it is not helping the safety and security of the world, it is not helping the safety and security of Afghanistan,” she said. “We need to bring our troops home.”

Warren said that rather than “bomb our way to a solution in Afghanistan,” the U.S. must treat terrorism as a worldwide problem and work with allies.

Pressed by ABC moderator David Muir about whether she would pull troops if military leaders on the ground advised her that a deal with the Taliban was needed, she pointed to a trip to Afghanistan two years ago when she talked to local and U.S. military leaders.

She said she had asked officials to “show me what winning looks like.”

“No one can describe it, and the reason no one can describe it is because the problems in Afghanistan are not problems that can be solved by a military,” Warren said.

The Trump administration has worked for nearly a year to negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban that would see U.S. troops withdrawn in exchange for assurances by the Taliban that it would not let terrorists launch attacks against the United States from Afghanistan.

President Trump last week revealed he had canceled a secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David to finalize such a deal.

Trump said he canceled the Camp David summit because of a Taliban-claimed car bomb in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier, as well as 11 others. He has since described the peace talks as “dead.”

The U.S. has about 14,000 troops fighting in the 18-year-old war on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS.

Buttigieg on Thursday also took a swipe at Trump over recent reports that a U.S. Air Force crew stayed at one of the president’s hotels in Scotland during a layover.

“We … have a president right now who seems to treat troops as props, or worse, tools for his own enrichment,” Buttigieg said.

Tags Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Pete Buttigieg

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