Gabbard accuses Trump of deceiving country on Afghanistan

Gabbard accuses Trump of deceiving country on Afghanistan
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Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardKavanaugh book author on impeachment calls: 'That's not our determination to make' Trump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy Beto needs to revive talk about his 'war tax' proposal MORE (D-Hawaii) on Wednesday accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it MORE of deceiving the American people in his pledge to quickly pull troops from Afghanistan and end the 18-year war in the country.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, for the second Democratic presidential debate in a row vowed a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan if elected president.

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She pointed to the Iraq War, a conflict that began after the George W. Bush administration asserted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction — a claim that turned out to be false.

“We were all lied to. This is the betrayal. ... The problem is that this current president continues to betray us,” Gabbard said during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate.

The U.S. military has roughly 14,000 troops in Afghanistan for a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban as well as conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Fourteen U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far this year, including two on Monday, reportedly in an insider attack.

Trump has long expressed a desire to withdraw from Afghanistan but has repeatedly walked back his plans after pushback from military leaders and lawmakers over fears that a sudden emptying of troops would create a vacuum for malign groups.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pentagon waiting for Saudi assessment on attack | Defense bill talks begin | Border fight takes centerstage | Pentagon finalizes .5B in wall contracts | US withholds Afghan aid citing corruption House Armed Services panel gets classified briefing on Saudi attacks US withholds 0M in Afghan aid citing corruption MORE on Monday said Trump’s latest desired timeline for a drawdown is before the 2020 presidential election, but the administration is currently negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban that has yet to be solidified.

Gabbard, the only veteran on stage Wednesday night, spoke of her time deployed in Iraq in 2005 and of her cousin, who she said is currently deployed as one of 14,000 service members in Afghanistan.  

Withdrawing from Afghanistan is “not about arbitrary deadlines, this is about leadership,” Gabbard said.

“The leadership I will bring to do the right thing to bring our troops home within the first year in office. We have to do the right thing and end the wasteful regime change wars and bring our troops home.”

She also said the cost of the Afghanistan war was $4 billion a month and claimed the continued use of such dollars is the reason Americans have become disenchanted with politics.

“Every single month we are spending $4 billion on a continuing war in Afghanistan, $4 billion dollars every single month, rather than ending that war, bringing our troops home and using those precious resources into serving the needs of the people here in this country.”

Gabbard is not the only Democratic presidential candidate to pledge to withdraw troops from Afghanistan quickly.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a veteran of the Afghanistan War, the previous night had vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country during his first year in office if elected.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOvernight Energy: Trump officials formally revoke California emissions waiver | EPA's Wheeler dodges questions about targeting San Francisco over homelessness | 2020 Dems duke it out at second climate forum Two former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Strippers, 'Hustlers' and the Democratic debates MORE (D-N.J.), who also was on stage Wednesday, said he will bring troops home “as quickly as possible" but will not set “an artificial deadline.”

“I will make sure we do it, we do it expeditiously, we do it safely, not create a vacuum that’s ultimately going to destabilize the Middle East,” he said.