Biden Administration Can’t Answer Crucial Questions About Rushed Afghanistan Retreat
‘This is the President’s decision. He chose precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Unbelievably he even chose the anniversary of September 11 as his deadline. As his team belatedly confront him with the risks and consequences of this decision, I hope the President will reconsider.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Afghanistan:
“The President’s decision to retreat from Afghanistan is not clear-eyed or strategic. It’s dangerous wishful thinking.
“As discussions with the Administration are making clear, this decision is not underpinned by a coherent plan to mitigate the geopolitical and humanitarian risks that our departure will create.
“When we’re gone, there is every reason to believe Al Qaeda will regroup in its historic safe haven. Giving up the high ground while the enemy is still on the battlefield isn’t a strategic move.
“Neither is banking on conducting so-called “over the horizon” counterterrorism missions without presence on the ground. If we’ve learned anything in the fight against terrorists it is the importance of reliable access and local partnerships. Give up the former and we likely lose the latter.
“The military currently flies both reconnaissance and strike missions against terrorists from within Afghanistan. The country is not easy to get to. Its immediate neighbors are Iran, Pakistan, and Russian-influenced Central Asian nations. They aren’t exactly likely to let us base significant counterterrorism units in their countries.
“So where will we be basing these forces? How will we maintain sorties from thousands of miles away?
“How many forces will be required to secure our Embassy? If a pro-Taliban mob threatens to overrun it, what will we do to protect it?
“Where will a Quick Reaction Force be based if not in Afghanistan? Will it still be “quick” if its response time goes from minutes to hours? We learned from Benghazi the so-called tyranny of distance.
“If the Taliban takes Kabul, will the Biden Administration recognize it as the legitimate government of Afghanistan? Will we shutter our Embassy and our aid programs?
“The reality is: They don’t know. They can’t say. There is no plan.
“It’s not courageous to abandon our allies. That’s a view many Democrats said they held when the last President considered withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan.
“But now, as Afghans -- especially women and girls -- face even worse dangers, many Democrats have suddenly become much less vocal.
“The horrific reports of the Taliban beginning to re-impose their version of sharia law are just a taste of the catastrophes facing our friends in Afghanistan who’ve borne the brunt of this fight.
“Human rights. Women’s rights. Counterterrorism. Refugee flows. As far as I can tell, the Administration has no plan.
“The world is watching. Allies and adversaries. Democrats can dress up this decision in flowery language, but the world will see it for what it is. Retreating from the fight. Abandoning our partners.
“This is the President’s decision. He chose precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Unbelievably he even chose the anniversary of September 11 as his deadline.
“As his team belatedly confront him with the risks and consequences of this decision, I hope the President will reconsider.”
Related Issues: Afghanistan