The Biden Administration’s Continuing Failures in Afghanistan
‘But even now, a year after the President’s orders were carried out, the Biden Administration continues to shirk accountability and responsibility…The fact that over a year later, the Administration still cannot really account for who they brought into our country, while both Americans and vulnerable Afghan partners still remain in Afghanistan as we speak, is not a success. It is a failure… Senate Republicans will continue to press for accountability.'
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Afghanistan:
“In January 2019, a bipartisan supermajority of the Senate voted for an amendment I authored, warning that the ‘precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from [Afghanistan] could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.’
“Two years later, senior experts and advisors repeated that same warning to President Biden. His own experts made it clear that a hasty retreat from counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan would lead to the collapse of the Afghan government.
“Those warnings fell on deaf ears. 13 American servicemembers died fulfilling the Biden Administration’s rushed evacuation.
“The Taliban now rules again in Kabul, as it did before U.S. forces arrived.
“Now, one year on from last August’s disaster, the devastating scale of the fallout from President Biden’s decision has come into sharper focus.
“Afghanistan has become a global pariah. Its economy has shrunk by nearly a third. Half of its population is now suffering critical levels of food insecurity.
“Afghan women and girls have had their rights to work, attend school, and live independently torn away under Taliban rule.
“And just as we feared, just as was predicted, Afghanistan is again becoming a serious haven for terrorists.
“The recent American strike that took out al-Qaeda’s leader, al-Zawahiri, is a credit to decades of work by the professionals of our intelligence community.
“But the fact that a terrorist kingpin felt comfortable in Kabul just months after America’s withdrawal is a damning condemnation of the Biden Administration’s unjustified confidence that the Taliban could be trusted not to lay out the welcome mat for our most consequential terrorist enemies.
“The strike was a success, but the underlying fact that President Biden’s policies led this top terrorist to set up shop with impunity right in downtown Kabul is a colossal failure.
“In fact, just weeks before the strike that killed Zawahiri, when the Administration already knew full well that the Taliban government and senior Haqqani terrorists were harboring him, the Administration still released another hardened terrorist from Guantanamo and returned him into the Taliban’s waiting arms.
“Al-Qaeda is rebuilding under the patronage of the Taliban and the Haqqanis. There is no question that so-called ‘over-the-horizon’ counterterrorism operations are becoming much more difficult. Senior Administration officials have acknowledged that our intelligence about the growing threat is drying up. So is our ability to combat it.
“And the damage, the fallout, isn’t limited just to Afghanistan itself.
“America’s reckless abandonment has done lasting damage to the coalition partnerships that had made our operations there so successful.
“President Biden showed America’s allies we couldn’t be trusted or reasoned with. And he showed our adversaries the weakness of our resolve.
“There is no question in my mind that Russian, Chinese, and Iranian leaders watched us retreat in Afghanistan and were emboldened.
“I advised three consecutive Presidents not to withdraw from Afghanistan. I believed a small residual presence was sustainable and would help us keep pressure on the terrorists and protect our homeland. General Frank McKenzie, CENTCOM Commander during the withdrawal, has said repeatedly that he voiced the same view to President Biden.
“But even now, a year after the President’s orders were carried out, the Biden Administration continues to shirk accountability and responsibility.
“The fact their haphazard scramble required an unprecedented airlift was not a success. It was a failure.
“The fact that over a year later, the Administration still cannot really account for who they brought into our country, while both Americans and vulnerable Afghan partners still remain in Afghanistan as we speak, is not a success.
“It is a failure.
“President Biden has rejected practically every part of his predecessor’s agenda, foreign and domestic, but he pretends he was somehow powerless to alter the previous Administration’s Doha Agreement to pull out of Afghanistan.
“Of course, the truth is that President Biden wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan. He campaigned on it. According to public reports he spent the entire Obama Administration pushing back against the generals’ advice not to cut and run. And once in office himself, he pushed ahead.
“Senate Republicans will continue to press for accountability. We’ll continue to pursue answers to tough questions about why the Biden Administration ran head-first into this national embarrassment.
“And just as importantly, we’ll also keep pushing to rebuild America’s military – both to meet major threats from China and Russia, and to defeat the terrorist challenges President Biden has left to fester.”