Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in support of an amendment opposing President Trump’s proposal to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan:
“I rise today in support of Leader McConnell’s amendment to S. 1. I agree that the United States should not precipitously withdraw from Syria or Afghanistan without a lasting peace agreement in place.
Afghanistan has become America’s longest war. More than 2,000 U.S. service members have lost their lives in the war, and U.S. taxpayers have spent billions for aid and reconstruction. While the Afghan government has progressed in fits and starts, the reality is that the Taliban is a resurgent force than cannot be defeated military.
As a result, it’s far past due for the United States to negotiate an appropriate end to that conflict.
I welcome Special Envoy Khalilzad’s efforts to reach an agreement with the Taliban that preserves the gains the United States has achieved over the past 17 years. However, the president’s decision to withdraw our forces from Afghanistan undermines Mr. Khalilzad’s work. A retreat at this time will embolden the Taliban to continue to fight on the ground rather than negotiate for peace.
Further, a precipitous withdrawal will endanger the U.S. and coalition forces who remain, and weaken the Afghan government’s ability to hold elections later this year.
As much as we all want to see our service men and women return home, I cannot agree to a withdrawal that risks returning Afghanistan to Taliban control—a time when women were publicly stoned and denied most basic rights.
In Syria, we must also be mindful of the risks brought about by a rapid and large-scale withdrawal of forces and support.
When President Obama ordered a withdrawal from Iraq, al-Qaeda’s presence in that country had been nearly eradicated. But it had not been defeated. Its remnants were able to reconstitute themselves and exploit the political vacuum left by then-Prime Minister Maliki’s poor leadership.
Today, according to the Defense Department Inspector General, the United Nations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ISIS retains between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters. By these estimates, it’s clear ISIS has not been defeated. While the physical caliphate may soon be eradicated, ISIS absolutely retains the ability to exploit any political or security vacuum left by an American withdraw.