Graham on Democrats debating troop withdrawal: 'ISIS and al-Qaeda are loving this'

Graham on Democrats debating troop withdrawal: 'ISIS and al-Qaeda are loving this'
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Graham: US should consider strike on Iranian oil refineries after attack on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-S.C.), a vocal foreign policy hawk, bashed the Democratic presidential hopefuls appearing in Tuesday night’s primary debate, suggesting their plans to withdraw from Afghanistan could help terrorist groups.

“Withdrawing from war zones filled with terrorists — against sound military advice — didn’t work for President Obama and it won’t work for anyone else,” Graham tweeted. “ISIS and al-Qaeda are loving this debate.”

The South Carolina Republican, a close ally of the White House, has praised President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE’s use of military force during his term, including two strikes on Syria in response to chemical attacks on rebel areas in the country. Graham was also critical of former President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq.

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Several Democrats vowed they would withdraw the U.S. military from Afghanistan, with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' Buttigieg: Biden gave 'bad' debate answer on slavery's legacy O'Rourke's debate moment reignites gun debate on Sunday shows MORE and Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers Left off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa MORE saying they would pull out troops within their first year in office, while former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said he would do the same within his first term.

“Look, around the world we will do whatever it takes to keep America safe, but I thought I was one of the last troops leaving Afghanistan when I thought I was turning out the lights years ago,” Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, said. 

“Every time I see news about somebody being killed in Afghanistan, I think about what it was like to hear an explosion over there and wonder whether it was somebody that I served with, somebody that I knew, a friend, a roommate, colleague. We’re pretty close to that day when we will wake up to the news of a causality in Afghanistan who was not born on 9/11.”

The Indiana Democrat went on to detail updates he would like to see for the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), saying he would propose an AUMF that sunsets after three years.

The Pentagon currently has about 14,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan in the 18-year war, whose mission includes to train and advise local troops in their fight against the Taliban and to conduct counterterrorism missions against groups including ISIS.

Two U.S. troops were killed Monday in what was reportedly an insider attack.