McConnell on Biden’s Afghanistan Retreat: A Series of Avoidable Crises
‘The strategic and moral consequences of President Biden’s decision to abandon Afghanistan are already coming painfully into focus… It’s getting harder and harder to believe that “over-the-horizon” support will be enough to help our Afghan partners sustain the fight against terrorist threats.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Afghanistan:
“Later this week, President Biden will meet with the leaders of Afghanistan’s civilian, democratic government. It doesn’t take an administration leak to know what will be on the agenda.
“President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman Abdullah Abdullah will arrive in Washington as a grave situation in their country rapidly deteriorates. The strategic and moral consequences of President Biden’s decision to abandon Afghanistan are already coming painfully into focus.
“Without air cover and with reduced support from the U.S.-led coalition, our Afghan partners are struggling to hold back the Taliban onslaught. In just the two months since the President’s announcement, extremist militants have retaken control of at least 30 of Afghanistan’s administrative districts.
“Reports from the ground indicate that their heavy-handed medieval rule is already creating new nightmares, especially for Afghan women and girls.
“And just last week, more than 20 of the elite, U.S.-trained special forces – who represent the country’s best hope of resistance – were slaughtered in a Taliban raid.
“It’s getting harder and harder to believe that “over-the-horizon” support will be enough to help our Afghan partners sustain the fight against terrorist threats.
“It’s already clear it would intensify challenges to our own national security.
“This spring, the intelligence community warned that the Taliban was ‘likely to make gains on the battlefield.’ As the director of the CIA put it, our, quote, ‘ability to collect and act on threats will diminish.’ Now, senior defense officials are portraying follow-on threats like the resurgence of al-Qaeda as not a matter of if, but when.
“Last week, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs acknowledged that al-Qaeda still seeks to directly threaten the United States, and that it could have the necessary capabilities to do so in two years – or even less in the case of a Taliban victory in Kabul.
“Let that sink in. President Biden’s top defense advisors believe al-Qaeda could threaten the U.S. homeland from Afghanistan within two years.
“So, many of our colleagues have the same question I do: Why is the President pursuing a policy that his own advisors admit will subject America to increased danger?
“President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah will surely have more questions of their own.
“They’ll want to know how we plan to support their defensive campaign without the air support that saves soldiers’ lives.
“They’ll want to know how we plan to contribute to urgent counterterrorism missions without a robust system for collecting intelligence on the ground.
“And if President Biden is unwilling to reverse course, they’ll want to know who will help protect their fellow citizens forced to flee by the Taliban’s conquest.
“The State Department is not prepared to efficiently process visa claims from the many Afghans who have worked closely with our personnel, let alone the massive flows of refugees already on the move.
“Where are friends of America to turn?
“It’s time for President Biden to acknowledge the consequences of his decision:
“That a refugee crisis in Afghanistan will mean senseless suffering…
“That the collapse of the Afghan state will mean a security and economic crisis across the region; a crisis America and its partners will be unable to ignore…
“That the fallout of our retreat will draw attention and resources away from even greater strategic threats from Russia and China…
“And that every bit of it will have been avoidable.”
Related Issues: Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, America's Military