The chief U.S. diplomat on Monday defended the army withdrawal from Afghanistan, telling a Home committee that the Biden administration was sure to former President Donald Trump’s settlement with the Taliban and that remaining would have risked extra American lives.
“The Taliban made abundantly clear… that it was going to carry us to the deadline that the earlier administration negotiated by way of withdrawing American forces,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken advised the Home International Affairs Committee.
The secretary stated the U.S. had way back achieved its aims in Afghanistan, together with degrading the power of the al Qaeda terrorist group to strike the U.S., and that staying longer wouldn’t have led to a unique final result.
“One of many classes is whereas we’re very efficient in coping with terrorist threats to our nation and eliminating them, which we did very efficiently in Afghanistan, the concept of utilizing army drive to remake a society is one thing that’s past our means and capability,” Mr. Blinken stated.
Within the combative listening to, Republican committee members advised Mr. Blinken that he ought to resign. They accused him and the Biden administration of betraying U.S. troopers, of manipulating intelligence to offer an excessively rosy prognosis of the Afghan authorities and army’s potential to carry off the Taliban and of surrendering to the Taliban.
“The Biden administration’s outrageously inept withdrawal has left America and the world a a lot much less protected place, 20 years after September 11,” stated Rep. Ann Wagner (R., Mo.). One in every of her constituents was among the many 13 U.S. service members killed within the Aug. 26 terrorist assault on the Kabul airport.
The committee’s Democrats faulted the Trump administration for its February 2020 settlement with the Taliban, however many additionally criticized the execution of the withdrawal.
Video: President Biden defends withdrawal from Afghanistan (TODAY)
“Sure, nearly all of the American folks wished to depart Afghanistan however not like this,” stated Rep. Steve Chabot (R., Ohio).
Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.) stated that efforts by Afghan elites to flee the nation forward of a Taliban takeover triggered a “stampede,” stopping the Biden administration from executing an orderly exit.
The secretary advised the committee that the administration coordinated its withdrawal plans with U.S. allies, expedited processing of Particular Immigrant Visas for Afghans who had aided the U.S. authorities and mounted a rare effort to evacuate Individuals and others. He stated the State Division repeatedly urged Americans to depart the nation and provided help to take action, sending messages 19 occasions starting in March.
He stated that about 100 U.S. residents who nonetheless need to depart stay in Afghanistan.
Mr. Blinken is also scheduled to testify Tuesday earlier than the Senate International Relations Committee.
Administration officers have stated that communications with the Taliban are restricted to logistics and safety issues and don’t sign formal recognition of the legitimacy of Taliban rule. U.S. and international leaders proceed to induce the Taliban to respect the rights of ladies, ethnic minorities and members of different weak populations, whilst studies mount of human-rights violations by the group.
The inclusion within the newly shaped authorities of members of the terrorist-designated Haqqani community additional complicates the U.S. place.
Mr. Blinken stated that the administration didn’t anticipate the pace at which the Afghan authorities and safety forces collapsed. “Even probably the most pessimistic assessments didn’t predict that authorities forces in Kabul would collapse whereas U.S. forces remained,” he stated.
Administration officers have stated they’re working constantly on additional evacuations, negotiating with international companions, comparable to Qatar, and the Taliban to get extra Individuals and Afghans overseas.
The administration will proceed to offer humanitarian help to the Afghan folks—together with almost $64 million introduced Monday—to be administered by nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations, Mr. Blinken advised the committee.
Write to Courtney McBride at [email protected]