Rep. Liz Cheney: "Irresponsible" To Try To Negotiate With The Taliban


Rep. Liz Cheney, Chair of the House Republican Conference, told CNN on Sunday that "the Taliban will not live up to any negotiated deal" and it would be "irresponsible" for President Trump to try to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: So, President Trump said he's probably going to make a formal announcement this week announcing that the U.S.-led coalition now controls 100 percent of ISIS territory in Syria.

You're on the House Armed Services Committee. Why not bring the troops home?

REP. LIZ CHENEY: Well, I think several things.

Number one, we have done tremendous work, both in Syria, as well as in Afghanistan. But, in Syria, the issue is not the territorial control. In Syria, the issue is whether or not we're able to ensure that ISIS doesn't reconstitute.

And we have got about -- we have had about 2,200 special operations forces there. They have been doing crucially important work that you can only do from there, providing air support, providing some artillery support, helping to work with the local forces to really help ensure the defeat of ISIS.

It's got to be an enduring defeat, though. And so, when you have a situation like we have now, where you're -- you have seen the caliphate -- as the president is saying, there will be this announcement that the caliphate has been 100 percent taken back. I hope that's right.

But you cannot be -- we can't be fooled into thinking, you know, if we just withdraw the troops now and we come home, ISIS won't reconstitute. We have got to ensure that we do everything necessary to prevent them from forming safe havens.

We know that there are significant numbers of ISIS fighters still in Syria today. And we don't want to have to go back again. I think that would come at much greater cost of lives and treasure.

TAPPER: So, this puts you and your philosophy at odds with President Trump.

You have defined victory in the Middle East as -- quote -- "that we don't have another 9/11," adding -- quote -- "That may require that we're there for a long time."

How do you respond to the president's criticism that your approach essentially means having U.S. service members in Syria and Afghanistan indefinitely?

CHENEY: You know, I think, first of all, President Trump has had tremendous success across the board on a whole range of national security issues.

He was absolutely right to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, absolutely right to withdraw -- to announce that we will withdraw from the INF. He's had tremendous success and has done exactly the right thing in terms of resources for the Pentagon over the last two years.

And so I support very much what he's done there. But I think that, in the same way that we saw with President Obama, you do not end a war by withdrawing from the battlefield.

And, when President Obama did that, and he withdrew our forces from Iraq precipitously, you ended up with civil war in Syria. You ended up with the rise of ISIS. You ended up with the caliphate.

I don't want to see us go down that path again. So I think it's very important for us to remember, you know, the Taliban -- al Qaeda is embedded with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban will not live up to any negotiated deal that we set with them.

The notion that we're somehow going to have a negotiated deal with the Taliban, that we can take their word that they won't allow al Qaeda to have safe havens again, is, in my view, irresponsible.

And we have got to ensure that our forces are there based on the conditions on the ground, not based on, frankly, what has been Rand Paul's approach, which is, you know what, I have just decided it's too long, we're going to come home.

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