McConnell Consistently Warned The Calamity Of A Precipitous Afghanistan Withdrawal ‘Was Not Only Foreseeable; It Was Foreseen’

Under Presidents Of Both Parties Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Consistently Warned Against A Precipitous Withdrawal Of U.S. Forces From Afghanistan Based On Arbitrary Political Timelines And Not Conditions On The Ground


TODAY: ‘An Utter Disaster -- We Witnessed It On The Screen … What Does That Say To Friends Of America Around The World? You Can’t Depend On Us’

“Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is calling the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan an ‘unmitigated disaster.’ … In an interview at WDRB studios on Monday, the Senate Minority Leader placed the blame squarely on President Joe Biden, and said the hasty retreat will ‘leave a stain on our national reputation’ that will not soon fade away. McConnell says he has recommended to the last three presidents that the U.S. keep a light presence in Afghanistan for counter-terrorism and for training the Afghan army. He blasted the president for the way American troops left the country. ‘So when the president announced that he was going to get out by May, the first thing he did was try to blame it on Trump,’ McConnell said, noting that the U.S. has not lost a single troop in combat over the past year. McConnell says our enemies are ‘cheering today, watching the Taliban, in effect, defeat the United States of America.’ ‘Now if he insisted on getting out, at least he could have planned it,’ McConnell said. ‘This administration couldn’t organize a two-car funeral. An utter disaster -- we witnessed it on the screen: people clinging to the side of the airplanes, desperate, trying to get out of there because they know they’re going to be killed by the Taliban because they were collaborating with us. ‘What does that say to friends of America around the world? You can’t depend on us. When we turn our back on you, you’re in trouble. So, this is a debacle of gargantuan proportions.’ McConnell says he is not surprised that the Taliban took control so quickly. He says the Afghan army was completely demoralized because, he says, the U.S. pulled the rug out from under them.” (“McConnell: Biden’s Handling Of Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Sends Wrong Message To Allies,” WDRB-TV Louisville, 8/16/2021)


YESTERDAY: ‘The Strategic, Humanitarian, And Moral Consequences Of This Self-Inflicted Wound Will Hurt Our Country And Distract From Other Challenges For Years To Come’

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY), August 2021: “The Biden Administration’s botched exit from Afghanistan including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership. The rapid advance of the Taliban was expected after the US abandonment of Afghan security forces. The plight of innocent Afghans was predicted, and the challenges of safely evacuating US personnel and innocent Afghans have been magnified by our inexplicable withdrawal from Bagram Air Base. And the likelihood that Al Qaeda will return to plot attacks from Afghanistan is growing. Everyone saw this coming except the President, who publicly and confidently dismissed these threats just a few weeks ago. The strategic, humanitarian, and moral consequences of this self-inflicted wound will hurt our country and distract from other challenges for years to come. … But as the monumental collapse our own experts predicted unfolds in Kabul today, responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of our current Commander-in-Chief.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 8/15/2021)

  • “A proud superpower has been reduced to hoping the Taliban will not interfere with our efforts to flee Afghanistan. God knows what fate awaits vulnerable Afghans who cannot make it to Kabul to board one of the final flights out. Terrorists and major competitors like China are watching the embarrassment of a superpower laid low. It did not have to happen this way. The United States had the capacity to avoid this disaster. We still have the capacity to dampen its effects, but without a presence on the ground or local partners, defending the homeland from a resurgent al Qaeda will be far more difficult.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 8/15/2021)


August 2021: ‘At Every Stage Of The Rushed And Rudderless Retreat That Has Followed, The Biden Administration’s Wishful Thinking Hasn’t Come Within A Country Mile Of The Reality. By Any Account, The Situation In Afghanistan Has Become Worse As We Have Headed To The Exits’

LEADER McCONNELL, August 2021: “In April, when President Biden announced his intention to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, he said it was, quote, ‘time to end the forever wars’. But at every stage of the rushed and rudderless retreat that has followed, the Biden Administration’s wishful thinking hasn’t come within a country mile of the reality. By any account, the situation in Afghanistan has become worse as we have headed to the exits. We will live with the security, humanitarian, and moral consequences for years to come. And this whole debacle was not only foreseeable; it was foreseen. Administration officials shrugged it off. They downplayed the chances that Afghanistan’s pro-American government would fall to the pro-terrorist Taliban. But now that outcome appears all but inevitable.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/04/2021)

  • “The Taliban have already begun paving their way to Kabul with innocent blood. Al-Qaeda is already rebuilding capabilities to strike at our homeland. What on earth are we doing? Surely the Administration would not consider the fall of Kabul a success. Surely it will not look at the fate awaiting Afghan women and girls and say ‘mission accomplished.’ Surely a terrorist resurgence or the assassination of our Afghan partners cannot look to President Biden’s team like a – quote – ‘deliberate’ or ‘responsible’ exit from Afghanistan, to quote this Administration. But these are the predictable results of their decisions. The consequences of making enormous changes with no real plan to mitigate the risks. The failure to learn from similar mistakes, like the disastrous withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/04/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, August 2021: “Here in the Senate, it is curious to see that some of our colleagues who are the most exercised about trying to undo Authorizations for the Use of Military Force are somehow also among the quietest when it comes to the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan and oversight of ongoing conflicts. Make no mistake: whether America is on the ground or over the horizon, the war in Afghanistan will continue. And Americans will not be safer with the Taliban ruling from Kabul. We will not be safer when al-Qaeda regains a safe haven and inspires a new generation of global jihadists. And we won’t be safer when coalition partners doubt they can trust our word. A strategic disaster from top to bottom. And a growing risk that this war will end in a victory for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and a greater threat to the United States.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/04/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, August 2021: “When the Biden Administration announced its reckless retreat from Afghanistan in April, I made my opposition very clear. But I was hardly alone. One of the most prominent liberal editorial boards in the country responded to the President’s move with this headline, quote: ‘Biden takes the easy way out of Afghanistan. The likely result is disaster.’ The Administration’s own top intelligence experts made a similar prediction. 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 its support.’ The Director of the CIA told Senators that withdrawal would make his agency’s job harder. And needless to say, the last time a Democratic administration tried a hasty retreat from the region offered a cautionary tale. Reality was clear to everyone but the very top of the Biden Administration. From their bizarre choice of a symbolic September 11th deadline to the absence of any concrete plan, the Administration’s decision appears to have rested on wishful thinking and not much else.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/09/2021)

  • “As the Administration’s withdrawal proceeds at full speed, expert warnings have become deadly realities. The Afghan people, and their democratic institutions, are being ripped apart by murderous theocrats. Nearly 1,000 Afghans have reportedly been killed by Taliban death squads in the province of Kandahar alone. In the last two months, the militants have taken more territory than they’ve held since 2001. And in just the last four days, the Taliban have raised their flag over six provincial capitals, including northern cities far from the group’s historic base of power. Militants are engaged in a campaign to assassinate crucial members of the remaining resistance, from military pilots to top government ministers. … And yet, the State Department still mouths unbelievably naive platitudes, like a, quote, ‘expectation’ that the Taliban will work toward a ‘political settlement.’ … This willful denial isn’t just costing Afghanistan. It’s already costing the American people and our interests. … I’ve warned repeatedly that those who seek to harm us, our friends, and our interests do not abide by our political timetables. They do not care if our leaders get tired of the task at hand.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 8/09/2021)


July 2021: ‘Sure Enough, Our Reckless Rush For The Exits Is Becoming A Global Embarrassment … [President Biden] 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.’

LEADER McCONNELL, July 2021: “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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/13/2021)

  • “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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/13/2021)
  • “Analysts are debating not if… not whether… but when al Qaeda will again threaten the US from Afghanistan. … 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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/13/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, July 2021: “Remember, the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan may not simply be felt in that country.  A Taliban victory and resurgence of al Qaeda could embolden jihadists all over the world, just as the rise of ISIS did in the wake of President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq. As we watch Afghanistan descend into chaos and ISIS continue to lash out in Iraq and Syria, now is not the time for either the U.S. or Iraq to pretend that our shared mission is over. As I’ve warned again and again, terrorists don’t observe our political timetables. They don’t pack up just because we lose faith or lose focus. So let’s hope this Administration is already learning from their mistakes in Afghanistan.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/22/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, July 2021: “By the way, with the Administration’s rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan, there are well-founded concerns that Al-Qaeda may come roaring back in that country.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 7/22/2021)


Early Summer 2021: ‘[President Biden’s] Decision To Retreat From Afghanistan Is Not Clear-Eyed Or Strategic. It’s Dangerous Wishful Thinking … There Is No Plan. It’s Not Courageous To Abandon Our Allies’

LEADER McCONNELL, May 2021: “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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 5/25/2021)

  • “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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 5/25/2021)
  • “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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 5/25/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, June 2021: “But this spring, when President Biden announced his intention to abandon the battlefield in Afghanistan completely, without a plan, there was a bit less outrage on the Democratic side of the aisle. And yesterday, the President moved to waive the NDAA requirements Senate Democrats themselves had supported in order to proceed with his misguided retreat. The White House has yet to address the obvious risks of our departure: That the Taliban will regain control, al Qaeda will return to strength, and the people of Afghanistan – women and girls, especially – will suffer. We didn’t have to wait long for these fears to prove prescient. The Taliban has wasted no time ramping up its campaign to drag more of the country back under its oppressive, medieval rule. More killings of soldiers, journalists, and activists. More oppression of women. And more ambitious operational goals. As one Taliban commander put it, quote, ‘When we arrive in Kabul, we will arrive as conquerors.’ Well, they’re inching closer every day. And this is all happening before our retreat is even complete.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/09/2021)

  • “Experts are still unsure just how quickly the Taliban’s resurgence will accelerate as we depart. That’s bad news for our partners in Kabul. It’s bad news for the Afghan military that is losing its edge without coalition support on the ground. And it’s especially bad news for Afghanistan’s women and girls. I know many of our colleagues share my concern for our partners in Afghanistan, and for the many Afghan women who have reclaimed so much of their freedom since 2001. Make no mistake: their future will be imperiled under Taliban rule. Rhetorical support for Senate resolutions and hollow promises of assistance from afar might ease our consciences… But they cannot take the place of the coalition forces in supporting our partners and vulnerable populations in Afghanistan.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/09/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, June 2021: “President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces leaves our Afghan partners alone to confront threats that his own top advisors acknowledge are grave and growing worse. The Taliban, emboldened by our retreat, is rolling back years of progress, especially for the rights of Afghan women, on its way to taking Kabul. Increasing indications that this collapse could come soon after U.S. withdrawal is complete are as tragic as they are avoidable. In the Taliban’s wake, al-Qaeda is already preparing for an ambitious resurgence of its own, which the President’s own Defense Secretary warns could lead to direct threats to the U.S. homeland in as little as two years. Without a reversal of U.S. policy, I suspect this threat will come much more quickly. … I hope the Biden Administration will delay the withdrawal, address these concerns, and reconsider its misguided retreat. As President Ghani and the Afghan people know, the threats we face from terrorism and tyranny have not been defeated.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 6/24/2021)


Early 2021: ‘Precipitously Withdrawing U.S. Forces From Afghanistan Is A Grave Mistake. It Is Retreat In The Face Of An Enemy That Has Not Yet Been Vanquished And Abdication Of American Leadership’

LEADER McCONNELL, January 2021: “Speaking of the Middle East, I’ve consistently and vocally stood up -- during administrations of both parties -- against withdrawing our limited forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria too rapidly or without a smart plan. A supermajority of the Senate joined me last Congress in warning against abruptly abandoning battlefields recklessly on bad terms. Finally, all of this important work will require that we keep our friends close. The United States needs to be a partner that neither strains alliances unnecessarily nor hands out free passes. President Biden should continue prodding our partners to honor their promises, pay their share, and put real capabilities on the table -- and reemphasize that we have their backs.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/27/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, April 2021: “Just moments ago, new reporting suggests the Biden Administration plans to turn tail and abandon the fight in Afghanistan. Precipitously withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake. It is retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished and abdication of American leadership. Leaders in both parties, including me, offered criticism when the prior Administration floated the concept of a reckless withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. Those same voices in both parties should be equally concerned about the Biden Administration’s announcement today. A reckless pullback like this would abandon our Afghan, regional, and NATO partners in a shared fight against terrorists that we have not yet won. It will also specifically abandon the women of Afghanistan, whose individual freedoms and human rights will be imperiled.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 4/13/2021)

  • “There is no reason to believe the Taliban will abandon Al Qaeda if we leave. We know we cannot conduct effective counterterrorism operations without presence and partners on the ground. Foreign terrorists will not leave the United States alone simply because our politicians have grown tired of taking the fight to them. The President needs to explain to the American people why he thinks abandoning our partners and retreating in the face of the Taliban will make America safer.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 4/13/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, April 2021: “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. … 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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 4/14/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, April 2021: “This afternoon, President Biden is sending his top national security officials to brief members on his misguided plan to abandon the battlefield in Afghanistan. As I said when this decision was announced, the enemies that threaten America, our allies, and the people of Afghanistan, alike, are not vanquished. Taliban retribution and repression and the terror of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Haqqani Network will likely only grow after we’ve left. I know many colleagues on both sides of the aisle share my concerns. I expect that the Administration’s representatives will face tough questions about the rationale behind their plan for a rushed withdrawal. Does the Taliban share the Administration’s commitment to a negotiated solution? To not harming Afghan women and girls, or seeking vengeance on those who’ve worked with the U.S. to root out terror? Somehow I doubt it. … But if the White House is serious about making America, our allies, and our interests more secure, it’ll need to start tacking towards a more enduring approach, centered on strength, and grounded in reality, not wishful thinking.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 4/20/2021)

LEADER McCONNELL, April 2021: “Further east, American forces have been ordered to make a hasty, total withdrawal from Afghanistan… To leave coalition partners and vulnerable Afghans high and dry, especially women and girls… To pave the way for Taliban rule… And to enable an al-Qaeda resurgence that could again threaten our homeland.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 4/28/2021)


2020: ‘We Must Make Certain That The Progress Won Through Great Sacrifice By Afghans And Americans Is Not Undermined By Any Precipitous Rush For The Exits,’ ‘The Consequences Of A Premature American Exit … Would Be Reminiscent Of The Humiliating American Departure From Saigon In 1975’

LEADER McCONNELL, March 2020: “After nearly 20 years, two basic principles are clear. Number one: We should welcome any serious opportunity to bring greater stability to this land. But number two: We must make certain that the progress won through great sacrifice by Afghans and Americans is not undermined by any precipitous rush for the exits. Republicans spent much of the Obama administration reminding our colleagues that hope is not a strategy. We argued President Obama’s reckless withdrawal from Iraq could set the stage for chaos and a resurgence of terrorism. Unfortunately, the rise of ISIS proved us right. That’s why, more than a year ago, I authored an amendment so the Senate could affirm that withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan the wrong way could strengthen the hand of terrorists and competitors such as Russia and Iran while weakening our own vital interests.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/02/2020)

LEADER McCONNELL, June 2020: “President Trump has expressed frustration with the Taliban’s failures and is reportedly considering withdrawing from Afghanistan even more rapidly. But as we weigh our options, we must not forget the painful lessons of the last administration’s mistakes. Former President Obama and Vice President Biden were intent on beating a hasty retreat from Iraq, conditions on the ground notwithstanding. … Last year, a bipartisan supermajority in the Senate voted for an amendment I authored which warned against precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria in ways that could jeopardize the hard-won progress we have attained, embolden Iran and Russia, and create more pain for us and everyone else in the future. Our enemies would be thrilled if the United States grows too tired to continue the hard work of standing with partners, confronting our adversaries, and maintaining measured leadership that projects our security around the world. Our enemies would be delighted if we grow too weary to act in our own long-term interest. We must not give them the satisfaction.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/03/2020)

LEADER McCONNELL, November 2020: “The last several days have brought renewed speculation about the prospect of rapidly withdrawing all U.S. military forces from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Here in Congress, a small minority in both parties seem to think it is in America’s power to unilaterally resolve conflicts by simply walking away from them. Of course all wars must end, the question is how they end, and whether the terms on which they end are favorable or unfavorable to the security and interests of the United States. And nothing about the circumstances we face today suggests that if we lose resolve, the terrorists will simply leave us alone.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 11/16/2020)

  • “That’s why, last year, 70 Senators — a bipartisan supermajority — voted for an amendment I authored. It acknowledged the progress made in Syria and Afghanistan, identified the risks that remain, and cautioned that precipitous withdrawal would create vacuums that Iran, Russia, and terrorists would be delighted to fill. There is no American who does not wish the war in Afghanistan against terrorists and their enablers had already been conclusively won. But that does not change the actual choice before us now. A rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan now would hurt our allies and delight the people who wish us harm. Violence affecting Afghans is still rampant. The Taliban is not abiding by the conditions of the so-called peace deal. The consequences of a premature American exit would likely be even worse than President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which fueled the rise of ISIS and a new round of global terrorism. It would be reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 11/16/2020)
  • “We’d be abandoning our partners in Afghanistan, the brave Afghans who are fighting the terrorists and destroying the government’s leverage in their talks with the Taliban to end the fighting. Our retreat would embolden the Taliban, especially the deadly Haqqani wing, and risk plunging Afghan women and girls back into what they experienced in the 1990s. It would hand a weakened and scattered Al Qaeda a big propaganda victory and a renewed safe haven for plotting attacks against America. And it would be welcome news to Iran, which has long provided arms and support to the Taliban and explicitly seeks our retreat from the Middle East. A disorganized retreat would jeopardize the track record of major successes this Administration has worked hard to compile. As a number of former officials and ambassadors recently stated, ‘The spectacle of US troops abandoning facilities and equipment, leaving the field in Afghanistan to the Taliban and ISIS, would be broadcast around the world as a symbol of U.S. defeat and humiliation, and of victory for Islamist extremism.’” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 11/16/2020)


Late 2019: ‘Whatever Happens In Syria, This Situation Must Chasten The United States Against Withdrawing From Afghanistan Before The Job Is Done … We Saw Humanitarian Disaster And A Terrorist Free-For-All After We Abandoned Afghanistan In The 1990s, Laying The Groundwork For 9/11 … We Will See These Things Anew In Syria And Afghanistan If We Abandon Our Partners And Retreat From These Conflicts Before They Are Won’

LEADER McCONNELL, October 2019: “Withdrawing American leadership from this pivotal region would not serve our nation’s short-, medium-, or long-term interests. It would only make a troubling situation much worse, not only for regional partners such as Israel and Jordan but for the United States as well. These are the reasons why I co-sponsored legislation earlier this year that warned against leaving Syria or Afghanistan prematurely. A bipartisan supermajority of senators supported it.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 10/14/2019)

LEADER McCONNELL, October 2019: “I want to make something clear: The United States has taken the fight to Syria and Afghanistan because that is where our enemies are. Fighting terrorists, exercising leadership in troubled regions, and advancing U.S. interests around the world does not make us an evil empire or the world’s policeman. It makes us a prudent and responsible world power that stands up for our own security and the freedom of others. … When it looked like President Trump would withdraw from Syria at the beginning of the year, 70 Senators joined in warning of the risks of precipitously withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan. The veto-proof majority vote for my amendment to S.1, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, demonstrated strong and bipartisan appreciation of our enduring security interests in the region.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 10/15/2019)

LEADER McCONNELL, October 2019: “Back in January, I led a forward-looking debate in the Senate on these very issues. I sponsored an amendment to S.1 which earned the support of a bipartisan supermajority — 70 senators. We went on the record opposing a premature exit from Syria or Afghanistan and emphasized the need for sustained American leadership in the fight against terrorism. I was disappointed when a number of leading Democrats, including my counterpart the Democratic Leader and most of our colleagues who are running for president, voted against this bipartisan consensus. But overall, a huge majority of the Senate spoke up strongly.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 10/17/2019)

LEADER McCONNELL, October 2019: “In January, following indications that the president was considering withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan, I thought the Senate should reaffirm these crucial principles. Senators would have the opportunity to debate our interests and strategy in the Middle East. The Senate stepped up. A bipartisan supermajority of 70 senators supported an amendment I wrote to emphasize these lessons. It stated our opposition to prematurely exiting Syria or Afghanistan, reemphasized the need for sustained U.S. leadership to fight terrorists, and urged that we continue working alongside allies and local forces. While I was disheartened that nearly all the Senate Democrats running for president and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) opposed the amendment, the consensus position of nearly all Republicans and a number of Democrats was encouraging.” (Sen. McConnell, Op-Ed, “Withdrawing from Syria is a Grave Mistake,” The Washington Post, 10/18/2019)

  • “Finally, whatever happens in Syria, this situation must chasten the United States against withdrawing from Afghanistan before the job is done. We must recommit to our Afghan partners as they do the heavy lifting to defend their country and their freedoms from al-Qaeda and the Taliban. … We saw humanitarian disaster and a terrorist free-for-all after we abandoned Afghanistan in the 1990s, laying the groundwork for 9/11. We saw the Islamic State flourish in Iraq after President Barack Obama’s retreat. We will see these things anew in Syria and Afghanistan if we abandon our partners and retreat from these conflicts before they are won.” (Sen. McConnell, Op-Ed, “Withdrawing from Syria is a Grave Mistake,” The Washington Post, 10/18/2019)

LEADER McCONNELL, October 2019: “Unfortunately, we know exactly what happens when America forgets these lessons and simply decides we are tired of sustaining the fight. Abandoning Afghanistan in the 1990s helped create the conditions for al Qaeda’s ability to grow and plan the September 11th attacks from a safe haven far from our shores. … At the beginning of the year, a bipartisan supermajority of senators warned about exactly this course of events. My McConnell amendment to S. 1 earned 70 votes back in February. We specifically warned against a precipitous withdrawal from either Afghanistan or Syria and noted the need for an American presence. … We highlight the need for international diplomatic efforts to end the underlying civil wars in Syria and Afghanistan on terms that address the conditions that have allowed al Qaeda and ISIS to thrive. We cannot repeat this mistake in Afghanistan. … We hope the damage in Syria can be undone. But perhaps even more importantly, we absolutely must take steps so the same mistakes are not repeated in Iraq or Afghanistan.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 10/22/2019)


Early 2019: ‘My Amendment Would Acknowledge The Plain Fact That Al Qaeda, ISIS, And Their Affiliates In Syria And Afghanistan Continue To Pose A Serious Threat To Our Nation. It Would Recognize The Danger Of A Precipitous Withdrawal From Either Conflict …’

LEADER McCONNELL, January 2019:  “My amendment would acknowledge the plain fact that al Qaeda, ISIS, and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to our nation. It would recognize the danger of a precipitous withdrawal from either conflict, and highlight the need for diplomatic engagement and political solutions to the underlying conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan…. This measure would reflect the conclusions of our nation’s military and national security professionals.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/29/2019)

  • “We have seen the costs of a precipitous withdrawal before in Iraq. And in Afghanistan, we have seen the downsides of telling the enemy they can just wait us out. So my amendment would also urge continued commitment from the U.S. military and our partners until we have set the conditions for the enduring defeat of these vile terrorists.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/29/2019)

McCONNELL AMENDMENT, January 2019: “Findings.--The Senate makes the following findings: The foreign terrorist organization al Qaeda, responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001, maintains a presence in Afghanistan…. The Senate-- … recognizes the continuing threat to the homeland and our allies posed by al Qaeda and ISIS, which maintain an ability to operate in Syria and Afghanistan … recognizes the positive role the United States and its partners have played in Syria and Afghanistan fighting terrorist groups, countering Iranian aggression, deterring the further use of chemical weapons, and protecting human rights; … warns that a precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from the on-going fight against these groups, without effective, countervailing efforts to secure gains in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions, and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia, to the detriment of United States interests and those of our allies; recognizes that al Qaeda and ISIS pose a global threat, which merits increased international contributions to the counterterrorism, diplomatic, and stabilization efforts underway in Syria and Afghanistan; …and calls upon the Administration to certify that conditions have been met for the enduring defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS before initiating any significant withdrawal of United States forces from Syria or Afghanistan.” (S.Amdt.65, Congressional Record, S.732-733, 1/29/2019)

LEADER McCONNELL, January 2019: “The United States is engaged in Syria and Afghanistan for a simple reason: because our enemies are engaged there. Real dangers to us and to our allies still remain in both these nations. We must continue to confront them. Fortunately, we are not alone.  We are joined in the counter-ISIS coalition by 78 other partners. And in both Syria and Afghanistan, local fighters are bearing the brunt of the work. But American leadership is essential. And that’s what this amendment is all about. … We also need to understand that if we withdraw too soon, we will create vacuums in Syria and Afghanistan. We know from experience that Russia and Iran would be only too happy to fill those vacuums. If we truly care about containing Russia, the battleground is not only on Twitter or Facebook, but also in the world of old-fashioned geopolitics.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/30/2019)

LEADER McCONNELL, February 2019: “The Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act would renew our commitment to Israel’s security, expand cooperation with Jordan, and impose new consequences on the perpetrators of Assad’s brutality in Syria. But when America’s national security and vital interests are at stake, some circumstances require not only the use of important diplomatic tools but also direct involvement from the United States. That’s why I introduced an amendment to S. 1 – so the Senate can speak clearly and directly about the importance of our nation’s ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Syria. I know that a broad consensus about American leadership in the world exists in this body. It is time to reaffirm our commitment to this vision and to the men and women fighting on the ground to uphold it.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/04/2019)

LEADER McCONNELL, March 2019: “So I would remind you, just a few weeks ago -- I’m proud to say -- the United States Senate did take action when we passed a package of legislation called S. 1. The first bill I called up in the Senate this Congress. What would S. 1 do? It would reaffirm our commitment to Israel’s security through military assistance, cooperative missile defense, and loan guarantees. It would deepen our strategic cooperation with Jordan and hold Bashar Assad’s butchers accountable for the murders of hundreds of thousands of civilians. It also put the Senate on record about the risks of withdrawing precipitously from Syria or Afghanistan, about the enduring stake we have in the Middle East, and about the need to stand with our friends and allies -- Israel foremost among them.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/26/2019)


2017: ‘Maintaining Forces In Iraq And Afghanistan Protects America’s National Security Interests. Our Overseas Presence Should Not Be Guided By Arbitrary Withdrawal Deadlines’

LEADER McCONNELL, August 2017: “Just as the United States maintained forward deployed forces in Japan and Germany after the Second World War and in South Korea after the armistice, a residual presence in Afghanistan and in Iraq, preserves the gains we have made in the respective conflicts in those countries--and America pursues our interests by supporting host nation forces.  Despite all of our efforts, and the unmistakable sacrifice and valor of our forces, we remain threatened by terrorists, as last week’s attacks in Spain reminded us all. Maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan protects America’s national security interests. Our overseas presence should not be guided by arbitrary withdrawal deadlines. The Taliban will never agree to a political settlement in Afghanistan if a date for our drawdown has been handed to them.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 8/21/2017)



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