Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said Thursday she would support bringing troops home from Afghanistan before the U.S. reached a peace deal with the Taliban—a surprising departure from other candidates who have voiced support for the ongoing diplomatic talks between American representatives and the Taliban.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, is currently negotiating with the Taliban about a plan for U.S. troop withdrawal. Those conversations have stretched over the course over the last year in Doha, Qatar. Khalilzad is also in close contact with the Kabul government about the plan.
When asked by ABC reporters during the presidential debate whether she would bring troops home from Afghanistan before the U.S. reached a deal with the Taliban, Warren said “yes.”
“What we’re doing right now in Afghanistan is not helping the safety and security of the United States,” Warren said. “It is not helping the safety and security of the world, it is not helping the safety and security of Afghanistan. We need to bring our troops home.”
Warren also said the situation in the country could not be solved militarily.
“We’re not going to bomb our way to a solution in Afghanistan,” Warren said. “We need to use our economic tools. We need to use our diplomatic tools. We need to work with our allies and we need to make the whole world safer, not keep troops bombing in Afghanistan.”
As of last week, Khalilzad said the U.S. and the Taliban agreed upon the withdrawal plan “in principle,” indicating the deal was almost completely finalized. But over the course of what was supposed to be the final days of the talks, the Taliban and the U.S. disagreed on some of the details of the plan, including the exact timing of troop withdrawal and whether some would remain in the country by the time the 2020 presidential election rolled around.
As Khalilzad was buttoning up the agreement in Doha, President Trump suggested to his closest advisers that members of the Taliban and the government of President Ashraf Ghani meet at Camp David to finalize the deal. The Ghani government agreed to the proposal only if it followed the announcement that the agreement had been finalized. Last-minute demands from all parties and a Taliban bombing in Kabul led to the unraveling of the Camp David visit.
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton argued aggressively against the president bringing representatives to Camp David, telling Trump that the optics of bringing members of the Taliban on U.S. soil so close to 9/11 would be inappropriate. Bolton also advised him to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond the 2020 presidential election—something the president has vehemently opposed.
It’s unclear now whether Khalilzad is still negotiating. Trump administration officials in Kabul told The Daily Beast that talks will eventually resume but that all parties are taking a hiatus for the time being. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has subpoenaed Khalilzad to appear for questioning on Capitol Hill about the details of the plan currently in play.