BUTTIGIEG: We will withdraw. We have to.TAPPER: In your first year?BUTTIGIEG: Yes. Look, around the world, we will do whatever it takes to keep America safe. But I thought I was one of the last troops leaving Afghanistan when I thought I was turning out the lights years ago.
One challenge with U.S. policy in Afghanistan is that there is no convincing theory of victory—no matter what strategy the United States pursues, there is no guarantee that the United States can turn Afghanistan into a secure, well-governed democracy in the foreseeable future. And for many policymakers across administrations, the unknown risks of leaving have always outweighed the known risks of staying—and to stay requires a disproportionate burden on the U.S. military. It is time for a thorough evaluation of those risks and the assumptions that undergird them. And while the situations are not the same, the experience with the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State have made policymakers even more risk averse with respect to withdrawal from Afghanistan in recent years.