McConnell on President Biden’s Chaotic Retreat from Afghanistan
‘President Biden and his team are desperate to duck hard questions about Afghanistan. But the American people deserve answers. They deserve to understand the risks of this trajectory. And how the Commander-in-Chief plans to keep us safe against a terrorist enemy that his own senior advisors admit will be allowed to regroup thanks to his actions.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Afghanistan:
“Three months ago, President Biden announced his intention to completely withdraw U.S. forces from the ongoing fight against terrorists and terrorist enablers in Afghanistan.
“I said then this was a shortsighted decision. And sure enough, our reckless rush for the exits is becoming a global embarrassment.
“Just take the reports that our forces slunk away from the strategically vital Bagram Air Base in the middle of the night… without a plan for our Afghan partners to secure the base… or even to keep the electricity on.
“But President Biden remains defiant. He’s rejected warnings that the government in Kabul will fall to the Taliban. He’s ignoring the truth unfolding before our own eyes: Afghanistan is unraveling.
“Since April 13, the Taliban has retaken administrative districts across the country at an alarming pace.
“With military victory in reach, the group is hardly even pretending to seek a negotiated solution. It’s wasted no time dragging large swaths of Afghanistan back under its repression.
“But President Biden appears unmoved. He says he bears no responsibility for the plight of Afghans who fought with us.
“Back in 2019, when his predecessor was contemplating a quick withdrawal from Syria, then-candidate Biden called that notion — quote — ‘the most shameful thing any president has done in modern history in terms of foreign policy.’
“Well, just look where we are today.
“The Taliban is hunting down the U.S.-trained pilots who help defend the Afghan people. It’s wiped out scores of special forces resisting its advance.
“As the Taliban moves toward threatening Kabul, the Biden Administration seems to have no plan to efficiently process special visas for the Afghans who helped us, and no plan to get those people safe passage to our Embassy or out of the country.
“The dangers facing the Afghan people – especially women and girls – are heartbreaking. The humanitarian crisis may well be historic.
“But this is also an awful, bungled mess from the perspective of our own national security.
“The President’s own CIA director told Senators this decision would be certain to inhibit our ability to collect intelligence. General Frank McKenzie of Central Command confirmed this week that intelligence collection was already suffering.
“The President’s top advisors understand very well that the Taliban is capable of retaking control of Afghanistan in just a matter of months. This would allow al-Qaeda to reconstitute.
“Analysts are debating not if… not whether… but when al Qaeda will again threaten the US from Afghanistan.
“And just wait until we see Russia and China rushing into the void, exploiting our retreat to expand their power and influence in central Asia.
“Just wait until the botched retreat and lingering threats end up requiring a large, ongoing presence of our military and surveillance forces elsewhere in the region — rather than freeing up resources for the Indo-Pacific.
“Just wait until the Biden Administration ends up consumed with this humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and its destabilizing effects, rather than focusing on building coalitions to counter Chinese or Russian aggression.
“Yet amid all this, President Biden isn’t reconsidering. Instead, he’s flooring it.
“The Administration sped up the withdrawal so it can be accomplished even before their darkly ironic deadline of September 11th.
“I have forcefully opposed efforts by presidents of both parties to cut and run from our work in Syria or Afghanistan.
“I have warned of the huge strategic price America would pay if this Administration pretends that terrorists will play nicely with their political timeline.
“As one recent headline put it: ‘We might be done with jihadis but they are not done with us.’
“President Biden and his team are desperate to duck hard questions about Afghanistan. But the American people deserve answers.
“They deserve to understand the risks of this trajectory. And how the Commander-in-Chief plans to keep us safe against a terrorist enemy that his own senior advisors admit will be allowed to regroup thanks to his actions.
“I hope that even in this Democratic-controlled Congress, our national security committees will uphold their obligation to oversee this unfolding debacle and its implications.
“Ending our presence in Afghanistan will not end the terrorists’ war against us. Sadly, the opposite may be true. This self-inflicted wound could very well make this struggle even more difficult and dangerous.”
Related Issues: Al Qaeda, America's Military, Afghanistan