On Monday, Sept. 13, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken participated in a hearing with the Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress to answer questions related to the military withdrawal from Afghanistan for which the Biden administration has been harshly criticized, The Hill reported.
In his first public—albeit virtual—appearance since the tragic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in which 13 Americans lost their lives after a terrorist attack, Blinken defended the decisions made by the administration.
“We inherited a deadline, we did not inherit a plan,” the secretary of state assured. “The agreement reached by the previous administration required all U.S. forces to be out of Afghanistan by May 1. In return, the Taliban stopped attacking our forces, our partners, and it didn’t commence an onslaught of the Afghanistan cities.”
“Had the president not followed through on the commitments that his predecessor made, those attacks would have resumed, we would have re-upped the war in Afghanistan after 20 years for another five, 10 or 20 years we would have had to send more forces back in,” Blinken added.
However, in an op-ed published in the New York Post, Trump’s former Pentagon chief of staff, Kash Patel, contradicted Secretary Blinken by asserting that he left them a plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in a safe manner.
“We handed our entire plan to the incoming Biden administration during the lengthy transition. The new team simply wasn’t interested,” Patel wrote in the New York Post on Aug. 19, 2021.
“The plan ended up being fairly simple: The Afghan government and the Taliban were both told they would face the full force of the U.S. military if they caused any harm to Americans or American interests in Afghanistan,” Patel wrote.
“Next, both parties would negotiate to create an interim-joint government, and both sides had to repudiate al Qaeda. Lastly, a small special-operations force would be stationed in the country to take direct action against any terrorist threats that arose. When all those conditions were met — along with other cascading conditions — then a withdrawal could, and did, begin.”
Other points of criticism of the Biden administration included abandoning and leaving in the hands of the Afghan government the Bagram airbase, which was controlled by the U.S. military, from which Americans and allies could have been evacuated more safely than from the Kabul airport, which was taken over by the Taliban a few days later.
“Nothing I or anyone else saw indicated a collapse of the government and the security forces in 11 days,” the diplomat noted. “This unfolded more quickly than we anticipated, including in the intelligence community.”
Republicans pressure Blinken
According to Fox News, at least three Republican representatives called on Blinken to resign over his actions in Afghanistan.
The ranking member of the committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, questioned the secretary for promising not to leave Afghanistan without first evacuating all Americans and allies, which promise he did not keep.
“We abandoned Americans behind enemy lines. We left behind the interpreters who you, Mr. Secretary, and the president, both promised to protect. I can summarize this in one word: betrayal,” the Texas Republican said.
In an interview with CNN, McCaul assured that these interpreters, who helped the U.S. government, not only would not be able to leave the country but are being executed by Taliban extremists, since they are considered the worst of the worst for having sided with the ‘infidels’ (according to Muslim beliefs, infidels are all those who are not Muslims).
Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) told him, “You’ve essentially surrendered that country and its people to the good graces of the Taliban, and the Taliban doesn’t have good graces. Yes, the majority of American people wanted to leave Afghanistan, but not like this.”
Lee Zeldin, a representative from New York, was even harsher:
“We have an administration that does not know how to confront an adversary, understanding that they do not respect weakness, they only respect strength. And it is so greatly unfortunate, the consequences, and I believe that you, sir, should resign. That would be leadership.”
Despite pressure from Republicans, Secretary Anthony Blinken maintained his composure and ignored the calls for his resignation, thanking the representatives for their questions.