Warren, Buttigieg Say They Would Pull All Troops out of Afghanistan

September 12, 2019 Updated: September 12, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said during the Democratic presidential debate on Sept. 12 that she’d pull all American troops out of Afghanistan, even without a deal with the Taliban.

“We need to bring our troops home. And then we need to make a big shift. We need to stop asking our military to solve things that cannot be solved militarily. We cannot bomb our way out of Afghanistan.”

Warren said America should work with allies across the world “to root out terrorism.”

She cited economic investment and bolstering the State Department as priorities.

She said she and late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) traveled to the country together. “We talked to military leaders, American and local leaders, we talked to people on the ground, and asked the question: ‘Show me what winning looks like. Tell me what it looks like.'”

“And what you hear is a lot of ‘uhhh’ because no one can describe it,” she continued. “The reason no one can describe it is because the problems in Afghanistan are not problems that can be solved by a military. We need to work with the rest of the world, we need to use our economic tools, we need to use our diplomatic tools, we need to work with our allies.”

From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.), Sen. Cory Booker, (D-N.J.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.), former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris, (D-Calif.), entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro are introduced for the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston on Sept. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who deployed to Afghanistan, was then asked about withdrawing troops.

“Today, Sept. 12, 2019, means that today you could be 18 years old, old enough to serve, and have not been alive on 9/11. We have got to put an end to endless war,” he said.

Buttigieg said that ground troops are not necessary to ensure that the country is not used as a base for terrorists.

If he’s elected, Buttigieg said military force will have a built-in three-year sunset clause triggering a congressional vote to renew.

Former vice president Joe Biden said that he’s regularly traveled to Afghanistan and that he was opposed to the surge there.

Democratic presidential candidate former vice president Joe Biden speaks during the 2020 presidential debate on Sept. 12, 2019. (Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

“It cannot be put together. It will not be put together. It’s three different countries … three different provinces,” he said.

He said Afghanis can provide bases the U.S. military can use if they have to conduct operations there but also said he doesn’t think ground troops are necessary.

He said he regrets his vote for then-president George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang said he signed a pledge “to end the endless wars.”

He said America “is not good at rebuilding countries,” citing the turmoil in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, as an example of that alleged weakness.

Democratic presidential candidate former tech executive Andrew Yang speaks during the 2020 presidential debate on Sept. 12, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The other candidates on stage were Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), former Obama administration Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and billionaire Tom Steyer just missed qualifying, and both took issue with the requirements set by the Democratic National Committee. Castro, the last to qualify, met the requirements on Aug. 20, more than a week before the deadline.

The other candidates still in the race that did not qualify are Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); author Marianne Williamson; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, Rep. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam.

Candidates who didn’t qualify for the September debate still have a chance to qualify for the next debate, which will be held in October. Details for that debate haven’t been announced as of yet.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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