Democratic Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard fired back during Tuesday’s debate at South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, saying that his response to the situation in Syria would result in empowering terrorists.
Buttigieg recalled his own experiences on deployment when addressing President Donald Trump’s move to pull American troops from northern Syria, leaving behind the Kurds who had allied themselves with the United States in the fight against ISIS.
Buttigieg turned the attack on Trump immediately, saying, “The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.”
The Indiana mayor went on to mention a contested story about a woman carrying a dead child, adding, “Meanwhile soldiers in the field are reporting that for the first time they feel ashamed — ashamed of what their country has done … What the hell happened to American leadership? When I was deployed I knew one of the things keeping me safe was the flag on my shoulder represented a country that kept its word.”
Gabbard turned the focus back to Buttigieg, pointing out the dangers of propping up groups in the Middle East simply because they had taken the side of the United States in a particular conflict. (RELATED: Gabbard’s Opening Statement: Impeachment Divides America)
“So what you’re saying, Mayor Pete, you would continue to have U.S. Troops in Syria for an indefinite period of time to continue this regime change war that has caused so many refugees to flee Syria, that you would continue to have our country involved in a war that has undermined our national security, you would continue this policy of the U.S. actually providing arms in support to terrorist groups in Syria like Al Qaeda, HTS, Al Nusra and others because they have been the ground force in this regime change war,” the Army National Guard officer explained. “That’s really what you’re saying.”
Buttigieg responded by claiming that Gabbard was aligning herself with Trump, firing back, “You can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policy, as you’re doing.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden also appeared to struggle with the details of the situation in Syria, appearing to suggest that withdrawing American troops were being fired upon by Syrians under Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
“I would not have withdrawn the troops and would not have withdrawn the additional thousand troops in Iraq that are in retreat being fired on by Assad’s people and the President of the United States saying if those ISIS folks escape from the prisons they’re in, they’ll only go to Europe and won’t affect us,” Biden explained. “It’s been the most shameful thing any president has done in modern history — excuse me in terms of foreign policy.”