Missteps on Afghanistan, Iran, and Defense Funding a Troubling Pattern for this Administration

‘The American people need and deserve a foreign policy that puts our security, our partners, and our interests ahead of the reflexive desire to break with the last four years at any cost.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding foreign policy:

“Quote: ‘Biden takes the easy way out of Afghanistan. The likely result is disaster.

“That is this morning’s lead editorial from one of the most liberal newspapers in the country.

“This Administration has decided to abandon U.S. efforts in Afghanistan which have helped keep radical Islamic terrorism in check. And bizarrely, they have decided to do so by September 11th.

“Apparently we’re to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift-wrapping the country and handing it back to them.

“Here is what this Administration’s own National Intelligence threat assessment says will happen. Quote:

The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.

“In 2019, the Democratic Leader and the now-Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee expressed outrage that the previous Administration considered hosting Taliban officials for discussions around the date of September 11th.

“But now a Democratic Administration is going to skip the negotiations and just surrender an entire country back to the Taliban on the same date?

“Our President should remember what happened when the Obama Administration let political considerations rush a retreat from Iraq. Chaos… and bloodshed… and ISIS. 

“Two years ago, I wrote a bipartisan amendment that warned a Republican Administration against recklessly withdrawing from Afghanistan or Syria. A supermajority of Senators voted for it, warning that the terrorist threat had not abated. Where are those Democratic voices today? I hope we hear them. 

“Unfortunately, this mistake in Afghanistan is one of several instances of this new Administration surrendering leverage without making America, our allies, and our interests more secure.

“In January, President Biden extended the New START agreement with Russia by executive order for five years. No strings attached. No concessions secured. Not even a shorter-term extension to keep up pressure on Russia to cooperate on a better agreement. Just a gift.

“And then there is Iran. Senior administration officials have gone from denigrating the former Administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy... to begging for direct talks with Iran... to proactively offering to remove sanctions that are – quote – ‘inconsistent with the JCPOA.’

“Which sanctions exactly are inconsistent with the JCPOA?  Our sanctions on Iran’s terrorist organizations? Or its ballistic missile program? 

“Most Republicans would be thrilled if President Biden could actually secure a better deal that holds Iran accountable. Giving up the leverage of sanctions before we even get to the table, or just return to a bad deal, is not a good sign.

“Certainly it would be hard to support any deal that isn’t part of a broader strategy that also confronts the non-nuclear threats Iran poses to America and to the region.

“On China — the Administration’s tough talk has been welcome, but its proposal to cut defense spending after inflation suggests there is less interest in walking the walk. We will not keep pace with China and Russia by cutting defense spending to placate fringe parts of the far left. 

“The American people need and deserve a foreign policy that puts our security, our partners, and our interests ahead of the reflexive desire to break with the last four years at any cost. 

“If this Administration wants a successful legacy on the world stage, if they want accomplishments that will endure, they need to put American strength back at the center and come back to the bipartisan mainstream.”

Related Issues: War on Terror, Afghanistan, America's Military