Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Thursday that if he wins the election in November, he will not fully withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Biden told Stars and Stripes Thursday he supported a continued presence of up to 2,000 ground troops throughout the region for executing operations against ISIS and other terror threats, Axios reported. U.S. troops have been in the region since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.
“These forever wars have to end,” Biden told the military paper. “But here’s the problem, we still have to worry about terrorism.”
Biden tells @starsandstripes that conditions in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are so complicated that he cannot promise full withdrawal of troops in the near future and would likely keep a max 1500-2000 troops on the ground.https://t.co/QnUC6BUN5L
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) September 11, 2020
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Biden also said that he did not favor cuts to U.S. defense spending, citing the need to deter “near-peer” powers like China and Russia.
Biden’s position stands in contrast to many progressives who support a full withdrawal of American troops from the region.
Though “Biden is on the conservative side of where the party is,” said Matt Duss, a foreign policy advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, he is “very engaged in the conversation” and “very aware of where the party is moving,” he told Axios.
Biden’s position also differs from President Donald Trump, who has opposed American troops’ continued presence in the region as well, Axios reported.
Biden’s stance reinforces comments that he made during a January Democratic presidential primary debate where he said that he thought it would be a “mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS,” according to Axios.
Biden has not always supported military intervention during his 36 years in the Senate. He voted against the first Gulf War in 1991 but voted for the Iraq War in 2003, Axios reported.
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