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Topics in the News: Afghanistan


Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 15, 2020
Trump has more troops in Afghanistan than 2016

Q: Serbia is talking to Kosovo and the Arabs and Israelis are talking peace. Does President Trump's foreign policy deserve some credit?

BIDEN: A little, but not a whole lot. We find ourselves in a position where we're more isolated in the world than we've ever been.

Peace is breaking out all over the world. Our troops are coming home--

BIDEN: They have more people there now, by the way, than when we left in Afghanistan. And we find ourselves in a situation where Trump has talked to Putin six times, but hasn't said a word to him about bounties on American military's heads in Afghanistan. And NATO is on the risk of being cracked because they doubt whether we're there. You see what's happened in everything from Belarus to Poland, and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world. This president embraces all the thugs in the world. I do compliment the president on the deal with Israel recently. But if you take a look, we're not very well trusted around the world.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Sep 17, 2020
Support Afghan counter-terrorism; oppose counter-insurgency

Q: Will you end our military involvement in these unnecessary, endless wars that don't have any end in sight?

BIDEN: Yes, I would. It's now public knowledge: I was opposed to the significant increase in our presence, at the time [of Obama's "surge"], in Afghanistan, and because I thought the only presence we should have is a counterterrorism presence, not a counterinsurgency presence. The idea that we're ever going to break up the counterinsurgency network in Western Pakistan is just not going to happen. But we have to be in a position where we can make it clear that if need be, we could respond to terrorist activities coming out of that region, directed toward the United States. It does not require a large force presence. We got that presence down to lower than it is now. This President is the one that has increased the number, not reduced the number.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper

Donald Trump on War & Peace : Sep 15, 2020
Soldiers don't want to be in Afghanistan

I'm bringing our troops back from Afghanistan. I'm bringing our troops back from Iraq. We're almost out of almost every place. You know, everybody said--because of my personality, they said "he'll be in a war immediately."

You know, there's no sadder thing than to sit with a widow or a mother, and these incredible Marines are walking off a casket and they were killed in the Middle East. Going there was the worst decision in the history of our country. We've spent $8 trillion and we've lost thousands of lives.

Iraq did not--Saddam Hussein did not knock down the World Trade Center. They said they had weapons of mass destruction. They made a mistake.

So we've been in there almost 20 years in Afghanistan. And we're bringing our soldiers back home. Nobody expected that from me. And people are so happy about it. And you know who's the happiest? The soldiers, I see them all the time. "What do you think, should we be here?" "No, sir, you shouldn't be here." "Why?" "They don't like us, sir."

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: ABC This Week: special edition 2020 Town Hall interview

Elizabeth Warren on War & Peace : Feb 7, 2020
Nobody sees solutions in Afghanistan, so end the endless war

Nobody sees a solution to this war. Nobody can describe what winning looks like. All they can describe is endless war. The Afghan Government controls less than 60% of the land. The opium trade is higher than ever. We sent our troops in and they did their best. They were there for us, but we need to be there for them. And that means, not send our troops to do work that cannot be solved militarily. It is time to bring our combat troops home. It is time to stop this endless war in Afghanistan.
Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Feb 7, 2020
Only deal with terrorism in Afghanistan, not nation-building

And with regard Afghanistan, the only thing we should be doing is dealing with terrorism in that region. I've been in every part of Afghanistan. Here's what I saw, there is no possibility of uniting that country, no possibility at all of making it a whole country. But it is possible to see to it that they're not able to launch more attacks from the region on the United States of America. That's a small footprint that we needed and I argued for that in the beginning.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH

Tom Steyer on War & Peace : Dec 24, 2019
Withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan

He promises to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in his first year in office. He has identified space as an arena "in which we compete with adversaries" and promises to support air force efforts in space.

He criticizes Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, arguing that it is increasing tensions in the region and pulling the US deeper into a "proxy war" in Syria. He opposed Trump's 2019 buildup of US troop levels in the Persian Gulf in the wake of increased tensions with Ira

Click for Tom Steyer on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2019 Democratic primary

Joe Walsh on War & Peace : Dec 24, 2019
Withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan

Walsh criticizes Trump's approach to peace talks in Afghanistan, as well as the president's treatment of US defense allies. Walsh calls for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, though while in Congress he supported a "surge" strategy of additional troops, similar to the one carried out in Iraq during the Bush administration. He has criticized President Trump's negotiations with the Taliban, particularly the possibility of inviting Taliban representatives to the United States for talks.
Click for Joe Walsh on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential hopefuls

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Dec 19, 2019
I opposed Afghan surge starting in 2009

Q [to V.P. Biden]: A national security official said that there was constant pressure from the Obama White House to produce figures showing the troop surge was working, "despite hard evidence to the contrary." What do you say to that?

Joe Biden: Since 2009, go back and look, I was on the opposite side of that with the Pentagon. I can speak to it now is because it's been published. It's been published thoroughly. I'm the guy, from the beginning, who argued that it was a big, big mistake to surge forces to Afghanistan, period. We should not have done it and I argued against it constantly.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Joe, you're also the guy who helped lead us into the disastrous war in Iraq. What we need to do, is I think, rethink the entire war on terror. It is time right now, that we bring this world together, to try to end these endless wars and address the root causes, which are causing these wars.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate

Bernie Sanders on War & Peace : Dec 19, 2019
I was wrong on my vote for Afghan War; remove all troops

Q: You often point to your vote against the war in Iraq is evidence of your judgment on foreign policy. But you did vote for the war in Afghanistan and as recently as 2015 you said you supported a continued U. S. troop presence there. Was that support a mistake?

Bernie Sanders: Well, only one person, my good friend Barbara Lee [U.S. Rep, D-CA-13] was right on that issue. She was the only person in the House to vote against the war in Afghanistan. She was right; I was wrong. So was everybody else in the House. But to answer your question, I don't think you do what Trump does and make foreign policy decisions based on a tweet at 3AM in the morning, or desert your long-time allies like the Kurds. I think you work with the international community, you remove all troops over a period of time, a short period of time, within one year.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate

Bill Weld on War & Peace : Sep 24, 2019
Troops out of Afghanistan; should have done it long ago

Q: A drone attack recently crippled Saudi Arabia's oil production facilities. President Trump has responded by deploying US troops to the kingdom. Your plan?

Rep. Joe Walsh: I would be honest with the Saudis. Iran's the biggest threat in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is no great guy either. With these troops, I worry about us getting further involved in a region that we shouldn't get involved in. Our men and women ought to be home from Afghanistan by now. We support Israel and we've got to do whatever we can to encourage that part of the world to move toward a democracy. But I don't like us placing resources in there, especially placing American troops.

Gov. Weld: I agree with the congressman our troops should have been home from Afghanistan a long time ago. but we've been there 18 years. People say oh we can't bring them home now to which they respond. It begs the question "when?" How about "never?" Is never what you're for? Because that's what they really mean.

Click for Bill Weld on other issues.   Source: Business Insider 2019 GOP presidential primary debate

Elizabeth Warren on War & Peace : Sep 12, 2019
No one can describe what winning looks like in Afghanistan

Q: How do we exit Afghanistan, which you suggest?

WARREN: We're not going to bomb our way to a solution in Afghanistan. We need to treat the problem of terrorism as a worldwide problem, and that means we need to be working with all of our allies, our European allies, our Canadian allies, our Asian allies, our allies in Africa and in South America. We need to work together to root out terrorism.

Q: U.S. military leaders on the ground in Afghanistan say you can't do it without a deal with the Taliban. You said you would bring them home [without that].

WARREN: I was in Afghanistan with John McCain two years ago this past summer. We asked, "Show me what winning looks like." And what you hear is a lot of, "Uh," because 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. The military will do anything we ask them to do. But we cannot ask them to solve problems that they alone cannot solve.

Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston

Pete Buttigieg on War & Peace : Sep 12, 2019
No open-ended commitment to ground troops in Afghanistan

Q: We heard in recent days from General Joseph Dunford, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said in recent days, "I'm not going to use the word withdrawal right now. It's our judgment the Afghans need support to deal with the level of violence." Would you withdraw?

BUTTIGIEG: I served under General Dunford, way under General Dunford, in Afghanistan. And today, September 12, 2019, means that today you could be 18 years old, old enough to serve, and had not been alive on 9/11. 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 commitment of ground troops. Let me say something else, because if there's one thing we've learned from Afghanistan, it's that the best way not to be caught up in endless war is to avoid starting one in the first place.

Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Sep 12, 2019
Can't put Afghanistan together: it's 3 different countries

Q: Was it wrong to pull out of Iraq quickly, as you did in the Obama Administration, and then had to return troops? What are the lessons for pulling out of Afghanistan?

BIDEN: I've been in and out of Afghanistan, not with a gun--and it's an open secret that I was opposed to the surge in Afghanistan. The whole purpose of going to Afghanistan was to not have a counterinsurgency, meaning that we're going to put that country together. It cannot be put together. Let me say it again. It will not be put together. It's three different countries. Pakistan owns the three provinces in the east. They're not run it. I will go on and on. But here's the point. The point is that it's a counterterrorism strategy. We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases-insist the Pakistanis provide bases for us to air lift from and to move against what we know.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston

Amy Klobuchar on War & Peace : Aug 25, 2019
We need to start bringing troops home from Afghanistan

A lot of this is negotiating. I think you've got to make sure that when you're dealing with the Taliban that you know exactly what they're up to, what's going to happen. You want to make sure a lot of the gains we made with women in government and the democracy gains that we made in Afghanistan stay the same. But, yes, I think we need to start bringing our troops home.
Click for Amy Klobuchar on other issues.   Source: CBS Face the Nation interview for 2019 Democratic primary

Pete Buttigieg on War & Peace : Aug 18, 2019
Make sure we have right kind of settlement in Afghanistan

Are we going to leave well, or are we going to leave poorly? To do it right, we need to make sure we get basic assurances about counterterrorism, and that the Afghan government is on the table, so that there's a formula for stability. We have leverage in this conversation. It is in the interest of even the Taliban to make sure that we have the right kind of political settlement. But there has to be an actual strategy. It has to be driven by our ability to get a deal that makes sense.
Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: CNN State of the Union interview for 2019 Democratic primary

Marianne Williamson on War & Peace : Aug 16, 2019
Protection of women must be part of any Afghanistan deal

My concern has to do with the rights of women, towards whom the Taliban have been known for a history of brutality. When elected, I will talk with the appropriate voices for women in Afghanistan and factor their protection and rights into all plans for withdrawal. The protection of women and women's rights must be part of any agreement.
Click for Marianne Williamson on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary

Bill de Blasio on War & Peace : Aug 12, 2019
Leave Afghanistan when a peace deal is in place

De Blasio has declined to join with most of his fellow progressive candidates in pledging to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He thinks it is a war that has "gone on too long" and he hopes one day to remove all of our troops. But he thinks it is unwise to commit to a troop withdrawal before a peace deal is in place. When a reporter pressed him to give a yes/no answer on an Afghanistan troop withdrawal, he replied, "Some things, I think you would agree, are not always a yes or a no."
Click for Bill de Blasio on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2019 Democratic primary

Andrew Yang on War & Peace : Aug 9, 2019
Bring combat troops home from Afghanistan, but stay involved

I've signed the pledge to End the Forever Wars. We need to get our combat troops out of Afghanistan. By utilizing our diplomatic options, we can bring our troops home. However, we have to continue our involvement in order to ensure that the rights of individuals--in particular, women and young girls--are protected, and that terrorist organizations can't reform within the borders. We can do this through helping the country to diversify its economy and maintaining diplomatic ties.
Click for Andrew Yang on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary

Tulsi Gabbard on War & Peace : Jul 31, 2019
No arbitrary deadline, but out of Afghanistan in one year

I was deployed to Iraq in 2005 during the height of the war where I served in a field medical unit where every single day I saw the high cost of war. This is not about arbitrary deadlines. This is about leadership to do the right thing to bring our troops home, within the first year in office, because they shouldn't have been there this long. We have to do the right thing, end these wasteful regime change wars, and bring our troops home.
Click for Tulsi Gabbard on other issues.   Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit)

Cory Booker on War & Peace : Jul 31, 2019
No military action by Tweet; out of Afghanistan later

I will not do foreign policy by tweet. A guy that literally tweets that we're pulling our troops out before his generals even know is creating a dangerous situation in places like Afghanistan. I will bring our troops home as quickly as possible, but I will not set an artificial deadline. I will make sure we do it safely, to not create a vacuum that's going to destabilize the Middle East and perhaps create the environment for terrorism and extremism to threaten our nation.
Click for Cory Booker on other issues.   Source: July Democratic Primary debate (second night in Detroit)

Pete Buttigieg on Homeland Security : Jul 30, 2019
Bring troops home from Afghanistan except for Special Ops

Our objective has remained the same: ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a base for terrorist attacks against the US or its allies. A negotiated peace agreement in which we maintain a relevant special operations/intelligence presence but bring home our ground troops is the best way to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a base for terrorist attacks. Using our current presence to help lock in a peace agreement should be part of that strategy.
Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary

Seth Moulton on War & Peace : Jul 30, 2019
Work to be done in Afghanistan after bringing troops home

The goal is to bring our troops home from Afghanistan but when we do, to bring them home for good. That means keeping enough troops there long enough to execute on a narrowly defined, achievable counterterrorism mission. We should do this by maintaining our counterterrorism capabilities, increasing our civilian support for the Afghan government through diplomacy and development, and staying engaged in the ongoing train and equip mission for the Afghan military as required.
Click for Seth Moulton on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary

John Hickenlooper on War & Peace : Jul 30, 2019
Don't turn our backs on Afghanistan by withdrawing US troops

Q [to Mayor Pete Buttigieg]: There are currently about 14,000 U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan. You've said "One thing everybody can agree on is that we're getting out of Afghanistan." Will you withdraw all U.S. servicemembers by the end of your first year in office?

BUTTIGIEG: We will withdraw. We have to.

Q: Gov. Hickenlooper, you disagree? You've said that you're open to keeping some servicemembers in Afghanistan beyond your first term.

HICKENLOOPER: I look at it as a humanitarian issue. If we completely pull our troops out of there, you're going to see a humanitarian disaster. We have troops in over 400 different locations around the world. Most of them are small, they're peacekeeping, they're not greatly at risk. We're going to have to be in Afghanistan. Look at the progress that has happened in that country. We're going to turn our backs and walk away from people that have risked their lives to help us and build a different future for Afghanistan and that part of the world?

Click for John Hickenlooper on other issues.   Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit)

Beto O`Rourke on War & Peace : Jul 30, 2019
Withdraw from Afghanistan within four years

Q [to Mayor Pete Buttigieg]: There are currently about 14,000 U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan. You've said "One thing everybody can agree on is that we're getting out of Afghanistan." Will you withdraw all U.S. servicemembers by the end of your first year in office?

BUTTIGIEG: We will withdraw. We have to.

Q: In your first year?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes.

Q [to Rep. beto O'Rourke]: Would you withdraw all 14,000 U.S. servicemembers from Afghanistan during your first year in office as president?

O'ROURKE: I would in my first term in office. Agree that there is nothing about perpetuating this war, already in its 18th year, that will make it any better. We've satisfied the reasons for our involvement in Afghanistan in the first place. And it's time to bring those servicemembers back home from Afghanistan, but also from Iraq, also from Yemen, and Somalia, and Libya, and Syria.

Click for Beto O`Rourke on other issues.   Source: July Democratic Primary debate (first night in Detroit)

Joe Sestak on War & Peace : Jul 30, 2019
Withdraw from Afghanistan, after achieving stability

I would commit to the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of my first term but with a plan--and milestones to measure progress--to actually achieve the goal of stability and good governance that is so needed. We must continue taking the fight to the Taliban in order to compel a final peace settlement with them and with the Afghan government that brings not just stability, but a chance for real human rights standards--particularly for Afghan women--to take firm root.
Click for Joe Sestak on other issues.   Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Jul 11, 2019
End "forever wars" in Afghanistan & Middle East

"The world's democracies look to America to stand for the values that unite us.--Donald Trump seems to be on the other team," Biden said during a foreign policy speech, hammering the president for "embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity" and emboldening a worldwide rise of nationalism, xenophobia and isolationism. Biden promised to "end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East" and terminate U.S. involvement in the Yemen civil war.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Seattle Times on 2019 Democratic primary

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Jun 27, 2019
I got 150,000 troops out of Iraq; do same in Afghanistan

Q: You voted for the Iraq war. You have said you regret that vote. Why should voters trust your judgment when it comes to making a decision about war the next time?

V.P. Joe BIDEN: I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq, and my son was one of them. I also think we should not have combat troops in Afghanistan. It's long overdue. It should end. We cannot go it alone in terms of dealing with terrorism. I would eliminate the act that allowed us to go into war. That's why we have to repair our alliances. We put together 65 countries to make sure we dealt with ISIS in Iraq and other places. That's what I would do. That's what I have done.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: Joe voted for that war;I helped lead the oppositio

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami)

Tim Ryan on War & Peace : Jun 26, 2019
If the US isn't engaged in Afghanistan, Taliban will regrow

Q: President Obama and President Trump have both said that they want to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Why isn't it over?

RYAN: You have to stay engaged in these situations. Nobody likes it. It's long. It's tedious. But right now, I would say we must be engaged in this. We must have our State Department engaged. We must have our military engaged to the extent they need to be.

Rep. Tulsi GABBARD: Is that what you will tell the parents of soldiers killed in Afghanistan? "Well, we just have to be engaged?" As a soldier, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable.

RYAN: I don't want to be engaged. But the reality of it is, if the United States isn't engaged, the Taliban will grow. And they will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts. We have got to have some presence there.

GABBARD: The Taliban was there long before we came in. They're going to be there long before we leave.

Click for Tim Ryan on other issues.   Source: June Democratic Primary debate (first night in Miami)

Tulsi Gabbard on War & Peace : Jun 26, 2019
Troops home from Afghanistan; we're no better off than 2001

Q: Why haven't we ended U.S. involvement in Afghanistan?

RYAN: You have to stay engaged in these situations. We must have our State Department engaged. We must have our military engaged to the extent they need to be.

GABBARD: Is that what you will tell the parents of soldiers killed in Afghanistan? "Well, we just have to be engaged?" As a soldier, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable. We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. We are in a place in Afghanistan where we have lost so many lives. We've spent so much money. Money that's coming out of every one of our pockets, money that should be going into communities here at home. We are no better off in Afghanistan today than we were when this war began.

RYAN: If the US isn't engaged, the Taliban will grow.

GABBARD: The Taliban was there long before we came in. They're going to be there long before we leave. We cannot keep US troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we're going to somehow squash this Taliban.

Click for Tulsi Gabbard on other issues.   Source: June Democratic Primary debate (first night in Miami)

Steve Bullock on War & Peace : Jun 18, 2019
We've been in Afghanistan for entire life of young recruits

Q: Would there be American troops in Afghanistan at the end of your first term?

A: "Think about somebody joining the military right now--Afghanistan and the conflict has been going on for their entire life."

Click for Steve Bullock on other issues.   Source: 2019 "Meet the Candidates" (NY Times.com)

Seth Moulton on War & Peace : Jun 18, 2019
We've got to abandon nation-building in Afghanistan

Q: Would there be American troops in Afghanistan at the end of your first term?

A: "I'm sorry, but we've got to abandon nation-building in Afghanistan."

Q: Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights?

Click for Seth Moulton on other issues.   Source: 2019 "Meet the Candidates" (NY Times.com)

Andrew Yang on War & Peace : Jun 18, 2019
May need more troops in Afghanistan

Q: Would there be American troops in Afghanistan at the end of your first term?

A: "It's impossible to know that for sure, given that reality on the ground might lead us to have more people there."

Click for Andrew Yang on other issues.   Source: 2019 "Meet the Candidates" (NY Times.com)

Marianne Williamson on War & Peace : Jun 18, 2019
Speak to Afghan women to decide about withdrawing troops

Q: Would there be American troops in Afghanistan at the end of your first term?

A: "I would make no move in Afghanistan until first I spoke to Afghan women."

Click for Marianne Williamson on other issues.   Source: 2019 "Meet the Candidates" (NY Times.com)

Beto O`Rourke on War & Peace : May 26, 2019
End war in Afghanistan; even work with Taliban

We've got to end our war in Afghanistan. We've got to make sure that we satisfy the conditions that first led us to go to war in the first place. That those who perpetrated 9/11 are brought to justice. That Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks on the United States of America or Americans. Now it is time for us to work with the partners in the region to produce a lasting peace and stability and bring our U.S. service members back home.

Sometimes, you don't have the fortune of working just with your allies, your friends, or the people with whom you agree. In order to produce peace, you sometimes have to negotiate and work with your enemies. And that's true for Afghanistan.

Click for Beto O`Rourke on other issues.   Source: CBS Face the Nation 2019 interview of presidential hopefuls

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Mar 27, 2019
Supported wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, but not Iran

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: Truthout.org, "War and Peace," on 2020 presidential hopefuls

Kirsten Gillibrand on War & Peace : Mar 27, 2019
Withdraw from Yemen; Withdraw from Afghanistan

Click for Kirsten Gillibrand on other issues.   Source: Truthout.org, "War and Peace," on 2020 presidential hopefuls

Tulsi Gabbard on War & Peace : Mar 12, 2019
No more wars for regime change, like Syria and Afghanistan

Her big idea: A central part of Ms Gabbard's campaign has been her call for an end to US-led "regime change wars"--in Syria and Afghanistan. She also condemns runaway military spending as a "new arms race". As a major in the US Army reserve and a veteran of the Iraq War, Ms Gabbard has a unique perch from which to launch her critique.

Her biggest obstacle: Her foreign policy has also been a source of controversy. In 2017 she met President Bashar Assad in Syria and has questioned the international consensus that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own citizens.

"I served in a war in Iraq, a war that was based on lies," she said. "I think that the evidence needs to be gathered." She refused to label Mr Assad as a "war criminal"--a position that sets her well apart from the majority of US politicians and the American people.

Click for Tulsi Gabbard on other issues.   Source: BBC.com on 2020 Democratic primary contenders at 2019 SXSW

Pete Buttigieg on War & Peace : Mar 10, 2019
U.S. not the guarantor of peace in Afghanistan

There may need to be some residual intelligence or special operations capability to make sure there is never an attack against the United States. I'm encouraged to see the peace talks taking place in Doha. If the Taliban are really serious about being ready to lay down their arms, that's a good sign. But I'm also concerned that the Afghan government seems to be an afterthought, because the peace needs to be sustainable. We can't be the guarantors of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: CNN Town Hall: back-to-back 2020 presidential hopefuls

Pete Buttigieg on War & Peace : Feb 15, 2019
Pull troops out of Afghanistan, but not Syria

Buttigieg says his experience serving as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan helped shaped his views. Buttigieg supports pulling troops out of Afghanistan, but has criticized Trump's plans to withdraw from Syria.
Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: PBS Newshour on 2020 Democratic primary

Pete Buttigieg on War & Peace : Feb 12, 2019
Afghanistan war was "outsourced" to the few in uniform

[After 9/11], little was said about personal sacrifice at home for the purpose of winning a national conflict. Kids in World War II saved tinfoil from gum wrappers for the war effort, women reused nylon stockings as many times as possible, and everyone then knew why they were being asked to pay much higher taxes. This time around, it seemed that the war effort was wholly outsourced to those few Americans who served in uniform. America tripped over itself to salute them, without seeming to consider the possibility that civilians, too, could accept some risk or pay some contribution into the cause of freedom.

We might have had, in those years, a more serious conversation about what each of us owes to the country in a time of conflict.

Click for Pete Buttigieg on other issues.   Source: Shortest Way Home, by Pete Buttigieg, p. 49

Donald Trump on War & Peace : Feb 5, 2019
Afghani settlement: great nations do not fight endless wars

Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7,000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East.

I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. Our troops have fought with unmatched valor--and thanks to their bravery, we are now able to pursue a political solution to this long and bloody conflict.

In Afghanistan, my Administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement--but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: 2019 State of the Union address to United States Congress

Kamala Harris on War & Peace : Jan 21, 2019
Time for a political solution in Afghanistan

Click for Kamala Harris on other issues.   Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls

Elizabeth Warren on War & Peace : Jan 17, 2019
Withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria

Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls

Kirsten Gillibrand on War & Peace : Jan 16, 2019
Withdraw from Afghanistan & Syria

Click for Kirsten Gillibrand on other issues.   Source: PBS News hour on 2020 Presidential hopefuls

Donald Trump on War & Peace : Jan 5, 2018
Afghanistan is a military quagmire; no need to dwell further

General Petraeus and now General McMaster represented a kind of business-as-usual approach in Afghanistan and the Middle East. A stubborn McMaster kept proposing to the president new versions of the surge, but at each pitch Trump would wave him out of the Oval Office and roll his eyes in despair and disbelief.

The president's distaste and rancor for McMaster grew on pace with the approaching need to finally make a decision on Afghanistan, a decision he continued to put off. His position on Afghanistan--a military quagmire he knew little about, other than that it was a quagmire--had always been a derisive and caustic kiss-off of the sixteen-year war. Having inherited it did not make his feelings warmer or inspire him to want to dwell on it further. He knew the war was cursed and, knowing that, felt no need to know more. He put the responsibility for it on two of his favorite people to blame: Bush and Obama.

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, p.264

Joe Biden on Foreign Policy : Oct 24, 2017
2008: Pakistan is the world's most dangerous country

[The 2008 debate moderator] asked the candidates to name the most dangerous country in the world.

"Iran," said Obama.

"Iran," said Clinton.

Then it was Biden's turn. "Pakistan." The room did a double-take. As [Biden's long-time aide Ted] Kaufman explains, "Well, if Iran is a real problem because they MAY have nuclear weapons, Pakistan is a problem because they ALREADY HAVE nuclear weapons."

Plenty of national security experts agreed with Biden. As recently as 2017, the former CIA station chief of Islamabad said, "With a failing economy, rampant terrorism, the fastest growing nuclear arsenal, the sixth largest population, and one of the highest birthrates in the world, Pakistan is of grave concern. It probably is the most dangerous country in the world."

Kaufman concluded, "I absolutely think that the reason why Obama picked him for vice president was because of watching him on the Foreign Relations Committee, and going through the debates with him."

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p.123

Tulsi Gabbard on War & Peace : May 27, 2017
Opposes fighting in Afghanistan & Syria; end arms to Saudis

She has called for pulling out of Afghanistan, the longest war in US history, suggesting that the government invest the money instead into "rebuilding our own nation through long-term infrastructure projects." She's opposed US intervention in Syria since 2013, air strikes in Iraq, and arms sales to Saudi Arabia. She backed Sanders in the Democratic primary because of Clinton's record of supporting "interventionist regime change wars."
Click for Tulsi Gabbard on other issues.   Source: Jacobin Mag., "Not your friend": 2020 presidential hopefuls

Donald Trump on Foreign Policy : Dec 1, 2016
2012: Get tough on Pakistan; 2016: lavish praise on Pakistan

President-elect Donald Trump spoke by phone with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in one of the many routine, get-acquainted chats he'll have before entering the White House. These talks rarely if ever make news, but this conversation raised eyebrows because Trump lavished praise on Sharif and Pakistan despite years of tension between the two countries, saying "You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems."

Previous remarks by Trump were not so effusive. Back in 2012, Trump tweeted, "Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We've given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect--and much worse. #TimeToGetTough". And in July 2012: "When will Pakistan apologize to us for providing safe sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden for 6 years?! Some 'ally.'"

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: NPR.org analysis of Trump's Twitter posts on Pakistan

Donald Trump on War & Peace : Nov 3, 2015
Blunder to announce withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan

Unfortunately, it may require boots on the ground to fight the Islamic State. I don't think it's necessary to broadcast our strategy. (In fact, one of the most ridiculous policy blunders President Obama has committed was to announce our timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.) If military advisers recommend it, we should commit a limited--but sufficient--number of troops to fight on the ground.
Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: Crippled America, by Donald Trump, p. 37

Donald Trump on War & Peace : Oct 20, 2015
Afghanistan war made a mess, but troops need to stay

Trump said the US was right to invade Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks--a reversal of his position earlier this month when he called the war a "mistake."

"We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan," Trump told CNN. Trump said on October 6 that he believed entering Afghanistan was a mistake and worried about U.S. forces getting stuck there.

"At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? It's going to be a long time," Trump said, when asked about Afghanistan. "We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And it's a mess. And at this point, you probably have to stay because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave."

Trump first signaled his backtrack when he said Afghanistan is "where we should have gone," meaning the US should have focused its attention on Afghanistan over Iraq.

Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: Tom LoBianco on CNN, "Afghanistan war not a mistake"

Bernie Sanders on War & Peace : Oct 18, 2015
Keep U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan

Q: President Obama announced this week that he would keep almost 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through next year; more than 5,000 after that. You heard Ben Carson say he supports that decision, so does Hillary Clinton. Do you?

SANDERS: Well, yeah, I won't give you the exact number. Clearly, we do not want to see the Taliban gain more power and I think we need a certain nucleus of American troops present in Afghanistan to try to provide the training and support the Afghan Army needs.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: ABC This Week 2015 interview by Martha Raddatz

Bernie Sanders on War & Peace : Sep 13, 2015
Voted for Afghan War, to capture Osama bin Laden

Q: You have said that you're not opposed to military action under certain circumstances. And in fact, the one time you voted for military action, I believe, in your career, had to do with Kosovo, which was a humanitarian crisis. Are we at that point, that Syria is such a humanitarian crisis that actually it does justify some military action to stabilize that country?

SANDERS: No. I voted also for the war in Afghanistan, because I believed that Osama bin Laden needed to be captured, needed to be brought to trial.

Q: Yes, sir, I apologize for that, yes, you did.

SANDERS: But I am very concerned about a lot of the war talk that I'm hearing from my Republican colleagues, who apparently have forgotten the cost of war and the errors made in Afghanistan and Iraq. And what I believe, very much, is that the most powerful military on Earth, the United States of America, that our government should do everything that we can to resolve international conflict in a way that does not require war.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Feb 12, 2013
Move into support role in Afghanistan; 34,000 troops home

We can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan, and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda. Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead. Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.

Beyond 2014, America's commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2013 State of the Union Address

Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy : Jan 29, 2013
Afghan women are better off, but we must prevent reversal

Q: What about the women of Afghanistan? What can they expect as we leave?

A: They're going to have to be given support from their own government and people, as well as the international community.

Q: It's grim for them.

A: For a lot of [Afghan] women, life is much better [than before the US invasion]. Girls are in school who never were before. Women are able to practice their professions and pursue their businesses. So for an increasing group of Afghan women, life is better. Still, there are all kinds of discrimination and difficulties. But for a large group of rural women, life has not changed very much. And what I worry about is that the security situation will keep a total lid on the aspirations and education of the rural women and begin to intimidate and drive out of the public space women who have seen their lives improve. And I think it's incumbent upon us and all the nations that have been in Afghanistan to do everything we can to prevent that from happening.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren"

Tulsi Gabbard on War & Peace : Nov 6, 2012
End our involvement in Afghanistan

As a war veteran who knows the cost of war, I will continue to call for an end to our involvement in Afghanistan. Now is the time to withdraw our troops as quickly and safely as possible. Our troops have served this nation honorably and sacrificed tremendously. We have decimated Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we have killed Osama bin Laden, and we have provided the Afghan people and government with the tools they need to succeed. In order for Afghanistan to achieve stability and peace, the Afghan people must stand up and determine the direction of their future. We must take the $2.5 billion a week we are pouring into Afghanistan to prop up a corrupt government and invest those resources in rebuilding our own economy here at home.
Click for Tulsi Gabbard on other issues.   Source: 2012 House campaign website, votetulsi.com, "Issues"

Eric Swalwell on War & Peace : Nov 6, 2012
Speedier withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan

In coordination with our NATO allies, I support a speedier withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. The US has been successful in fighting the insurgents and training Afghan security forces for long-term security in what was once the heart of Al- Qaeda. Our military leaders have a sensible plan to slowly turn over portions of the country to Afghan security forces. The end is in sight and we must ensure we have a systematic withdrawal that ensures long-term security from terrorism in Afghanistan.
Click for Eric Swalwell on other issues.   Source: 2012 House campaign website, swalwellforcongress.com

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 22, 2012
We had forgotten why we went into Afghanistan

OBAMA: When I came into office, we were still bogged down in Iraq, and Afghanistan had been drifting for a decade. We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on Afghanistan. And we are now in a position where we have met many of the objectives that got us there in the first place. Part of what had happened is we'd forgotten why we'd gone. We went because there were people who were responsible for 3,000 American deaths. And so we decimated al-Qaida's core leadership in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We then started to build up Afghan forces. And we're now in a position where we can transition out, because there's no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country.

ROMNEY: Inside Pakistan you have a large group of Pashtuns that are Taliban, that they're going to come rushing back into Afghanistan when we go.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Third Obama-Romney 2012 Presidential debate

Kirsten Gillibrand on War & Peace : Oct 17, 2012
Al Qaeda has metastasized; get troops out of Afghanistan

While Long criticized Obama for setting a 2014 withdrawal date for troops in Afghanistan, Gillibrand said she believes America should leave now.

Gillibrand said Al Quaeda has "metastasized" to other parts of the world. "I do not believe that we should continue our investment of troops, troops' lives and our money in Afghanistan because the threat has moved," she said; the US needs a "counter-terrorism approach instead of a counter insurgency approach. We need narrow targeted missions," she said.

Click for Kirsten Gillibrand on other issues.   Source: New York Daily News on 2012 N. Y. Senate debate

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2012
Out of Iraq as promised; out of Afghanistan soon

On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake--that he ended it--Governor Romney said we should have left 30,000 troops there.

With regard to Afghanistan, he said he will end the war in 2014. Governor Romney said, #1, we should not set a date, and #2, with regard to 2014, it depends.

When it came to Osama bin Laden, the president, the first day in office, he called in the CIA and signed an order saying, 'my highest priority is to get bin Laden.' Prior to Pres. Obama being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked a question about how he would proceed. He said, 'I wouldn't move heaven and earth to get bin Laden.' He didn't understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield; it was about restoring America's heart.

And lastly, the president has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite. The last thing we need now is another war.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2012
Out of Afghanistan in 2014, period

Q: We've degraded al-Qaida. So why not leave Afghanistan now?

RYAN: We don't want to lose the gains we've gotten. We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition. And that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.

BIDEN: Let's keep our eye on the ball. The fact is we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, al-Qaida. We've decimated al-Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose. And in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It's their responsibility to take over their own security. That's why, with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we've agreed on a gradual drawdown so we're out of there in the year 2014. [Ryan & Romney] say it's based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. We are leaving in 2014, period.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate

Elizabeth Warren on War & Peace : Oct 2, 2012
Bring US troops home from Afghanistan before 2014

Asked about Afghanistan, Warren broke with Obama, saying U.S. troops should be brought home ahead of his 2014 withdrawal date. "We can't stay and rebuild Afghanistan forever," she said. "I think it is time to bring our troops home."

Brown, however, said he wouldn't want to second guess the president. "I would rely on the guidance from the president and his generals," he said.

Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: Fox News on 2012 Mass. Senate debate

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Sep 6, 2012
End our longest war: out of Afghanistan in 2014

Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. And we have. We've blunted the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over.

A new tower rises above the New York skyline, Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech

Deval Patrick on War & Peace : Sep 4, 2012
Obama ended war in Iraq & is ending war in Afghanistan

We shape our own future. Let's start by standing up for President Barack Obama. This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended "don't ask, don't tell" so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service. Who made equal pay for equal work the law of the land. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American economy from depression. Who added over 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last two-plus years, more jobs than George W. Bush added in eight. The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told.
Click for Deval Patrick on other issues.   Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech

Barack Obama on Foreign Policy : Jun 14, 2012
Engage with Iran; but combat Al Qaeda in Pakistan

One important influence upon the new administration's thinking was Lee Hamilton. Hamilton had served as a back-channel adviser to the Obama presidential campaign, both through his former aides and in private talks with Obama himself. The Obama aides who had previously worked for Hamilton felt the men shared a common worldview, a general sense of the limits of American power. Hamilton had long been a proponent of a policy of engagement with Iran. Separately, however, he had also favored intensive US military strikes into Pakistan to combat al-Qaeda. Both of these positions became key points on which Obama, as a candidate, had sought to differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton. After Obama was elected president, these ideas on Iran and Pakistan eventually became among the most prominent and distinctive aspects of the new administration's foreign policy.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.150

Hillary Clinton on War & Peace : Jun 14, 2012
Clinton-Gates combo won push for Afghan surge

Just as the Obama administration was beginning to hold meetings to decide [whether to send a troop surge to] Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal's report leaked out.

Robert Gates gradually came around to supporting the McChrystal request, and Hillary Clinton did, too. During that period, the two often sided with each other in administration debates; they were happy to show that the secretaries of state and defense could work smoothly together, unlike their immediate predecessors, Donald Rumsfeld with Colin Powell & Condi Rice. The Clinton-Gates combine helped to win over the president to sending more troops, despite the skepticism of other senior administration officials such as Biden; the president was not prepared to override the recommendations of the two departments primarily responsible for foreign affairs. Obama approved the deployment of 30,000 more American troops for Afghanistan, bringing the total to about 100,000, and also called on NATO allies to provide another 5,000 or more of their own.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.134-136

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Jan 24, 2012
Make sure Afghanistan is never again a source of attack

Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From this position of strength, we've begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. 10,000 of our troops have come home. 23,000 more will leave by the end of this summer. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America.
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2012 State of the Union speech

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Dec 13, 2011
Withdraw US troops continuously from Afghanistan until 2014

Q: The horizon on Afghanistan is that that war does not end for America next year, but by the end of 2014. Is it possible it could end sooner?

BIDEN: It has the potential to be wound down. It`s in direct proportion to how wound up the Afghan military is, how good they are, how quickly they come online. And how much responsibility the Afghan Government is able to exert politically within Afghanistan. For example, the president said that we were going to withdraw "the surge," 33,000 forces by the end of this summer. And we`re not going to slow this down. This doesn`t mean that we`re going to wait until the last minute to say the other 60,000-some folks are going to come out at the end of 2014. We are going to continue to drawdown forces on a continuous basis, continuing to turn over responsibility to the Afghans, because at the end of the day, our objective is to as responsibly as we can withdraw American forces from Afghanistan.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on 2012 election

Elizabeth Warren on War & Peace : Dec 4, 2011
Get out of Afghanistan as fast as possible

Elizabeth Warren wants to see American troops exit Afghanistan "as fast as possible," a spokesman said noting that the first-time candidate believes the Obama administration's three-year timetable could be accelerated. "Elizabeth thinks we need to get out of Afghanistan as fast as possible, but we must do so in a way that maintains the safety of our troops and allows a handoff to the Afghans," said the campaign spokesman. "She believes that this can be done faster than the current timeline."
Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: Boston Herald, "Troop Withdrawal"

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Oct 11, 2011
Afghan war: moral imperative against determined enemy

He spoke about combat with a new conviction. He described the war in the exact terms he once asked his speechwriters to avoid: It was a moral imperative--a glorious endeavor to be celebrated. "If I thought for a minute that America's vital interests were not served, were not at stake here in Afghanistan, I would order you all home right now. "There's going to be setbacks. We face a determined enemy. But we also know this: America does not quit once it starts something. You don't quit.

"Al Qaeda and the violent extremists who you're fighting against want to destroy. But all of you want to build, and that is something essential about America. They're got no respect for human life. You see dignity in every human being. They want to drive races and regions and religions apart. You want to bring people together and see the world move forward together. They offer fear. You offer hope."

By the time Obama finished his 20-minute speech, the troops' polite applause had turned to stomps and whistles.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Ten Letters, by Eli Saslow, p. 70-71

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Apr 4, 2011
While we fight "war on drugs", Afghans do our drug business

The WikiLeaks cache of State Dept. cables contains quite a few about our war in Afghanistan, but none more revealing than what our diplomats really know about the country's president, Hamid Karzai. One secret cable talks about how he'd released 150 of the 629 detainees that the coalition had transferred to Afghan custody since 2007--and pardoned five border police who were caught with 273 pounds of heroin in their vehicle and already been sentenced to prison. Karzai's brother is portrayed as a corrupt drug baron.

It's time we faced facts: fighting the Taliban over there is at the same time propping up the biggest drug-based regime in the world.

The World Bank issued a report in 2006 on "Afghanistan's Opium Economy." Isn't it interesting that we're fighting a "war on drugs," yet over there we have no problem with this? Certainly those drugs are going to get here eventually, again just follow the money. But obviously the Afghans involved can buy protection and continue their business.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: 63 Documents, by Gov. Jesse Ventura, p.288-292

Barack Obama on War & Peace : Jan 26, 2011
We've taken the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan, until July

As we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we're disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies.

We've also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan security forces. Our purpose is clear: By preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: 2011 State of the Union speech

Michael Bennet on War & Peace : Oct 17, 2010
Commit to bring home troops from Afghanistan in July 2011

Q: If President Obama and General Petraeus were to determine that they need a significant number of troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the July 2011 deadline, is that a position that you'd be able to support?

BENNET: My position is that we ought to begin bringing our troops home in July '11. And there will be troops there, they'll have to leave troops there, and I recognize that. But this is the longest shooting war in our country's history.

Q: But if a significant number of combat forces must remain to achieve US goals, you'd be for it or against it?

BENNET: I would have to look at it then, but what I want to make clear is that I believe the president needs to honor the commitment that he made to begin bringing our troops home. I don't know what "significant" is. I imagine that there will be a substantial number of troops there for the foreseeable future.

Q: And you could support that?

BENNET: I believe what the American people need to see that our commitment there is coming to an end.

Click for Michael Bennet on other issues.   Source: NBC's Meet the Press: 2010 Colorado Senate debate

Michael Bennet on War & Peace : Oct 8, 2010
Afghan exit after al-Qaida groups destroyed in Pakistan

While endorsing the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Buck said it was a mistake to attempt to build a democratic nation there. He said U.S. policy should be limited to three goals--to prevent the country from becoming a haven for terrorists; to disrupt the illegal drugs coming out of Afghanistan; and to promote peace in the area by leaving a minimal force behind.

Bennet's view was even briefer, saying U.S. goals in Afghanistan should be to destroy al-Qaida groups on the Pakistan border and then to support the Pakistan military to make certain that country's nuclear weapons are secure from terrorists. Then U.S. troops should be brought home.

Click for Michael Bennet on other issues.   Source: Pueblo Chieftan coverage of 2010 Colorado Senate Debate

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 5, 2010
2008: Afghanistan is forgotten war, & Pakistan is neglected

Biden, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in late February 2008, he flew to Afghanistan, India, Turkey and Pakistan on a fact-finding tour. Afterward, Biden labeled Afghanistan "the forgotten war" and Pakistan "the neglected frontier," calling for a fresh look at the former and more economic aid for the latter. Afghanistan, he said, was "slipping toward failure because it has never been given a priority" as the war in Iraq dragged on.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.405

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 5, 2010
Not necessary to defeat Taliban; it's part of Afghan society

    I wrote to the president, a long, 20-page handwritten memo focused on making the case:
  1. that this is a 3-dimensional problem--al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan;
  2. that there be a limit on the number of troops so that this wouldn't be a constant, creeping escalation whatever troop level was announced;
  3. that there be a date at which we would begin the drawdown of American forces with the aim of drawing down all combat forces out, a la Iraq;
  4. that it was not necessary to defeat the Taliban because the Taliban was and is part of the fabric of the Pashtun society--20% to 30% of it is incorrigible and must be defeated, and the remainder should be integrated into Afghan society;
  5. that the return of the ability of the Taliban to overthrow the Afghan government was simply not within their power;
  6. that the Taliban was not seeking to establish a new caliphate, they were not an existential threat to the USA,
  7. that al-Qaeda's return to Afghanistan was highly unlikely.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.463

Joe Biden on War & Peace : Oct 5, 2010
2002: Iraq pivots from unfinished business in Afghanistan

In 2002, Biden flew to Afghanistan, as mopping-up operations continued. What Biden heard from all quarters were pleas for more of everything--money, troops, security--and a commitment for the US presence to remain, at least until circumstances greatly improved.

Biden returned conveying a plea for urgent help, and Powell joined it, but while Bush "was agreeable and willing to listen, he was also noncommittal," Biden wrote later. Though Bush talked of a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, he had other ideas, and was already giving Cheney and Rumsfeld "the force and resources they requested for a new target"--Iraq.

By now it was becoming increasingly clear to Biden that a critical pivot was under way from the unfinished business in Afghanistan to the neoconservatives' vision of spreading democracy throughout the Middle East, starting with deposing Saddam Hussein.

Biden and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel introduced a bill providing more money for Afghanistan, but the administration opposed it.

Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.340-342

Kirsten Gillibrand on War & Peace : Aug 11, 2010
Timetable for drawing down troops from Afghanistan

Q: What timetable would you support for the removal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan?

A: I support the recent removal of combat troops from Iraq, as agreed to with the Iraqi government. I also support a timetable for drawing down troops from Afghanistan as a political tool to help encourage the Afghan government to assume more responsibility for their own security.

Click for Kirsten Gillibrand on other issues.   Source: League of Women Voters 2010 Candidate Questionnaire

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