Friday, September 17, 2021

Biden admin faces bipartisan criticism over Afghanistan at Blinken Senate hearing

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared before Congress for the second time this week—this time to address the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On Monday, Blinken’s appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee heated up, as Democrats and Republicans leveled charges at the rival party’s administration. While the debate in the upper house was quiet, they showed full-blown fundamental disagreement about whether the blame for the crisis should be placed on former President Donald Trump or incumbent President Joe Biden.

Blinken defends Biden administration

In the same prepared speech to the House on Monday, Blinken defended the actions of the Biden administration in Afghanistan.

He began by saying that the United States’ visit to Afghanistan had two main goals: to “bring justice to al-Qaeda” for its role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and to ensure that the country was not used. could. A launching point for another such terror attack. These goals were met “a long time ago,” Blinken said.

Still, Blinken indicated that the current administration felt compelled to conform to the deal Trump made with the Taliban. Biden had two choices when he came into office and inherited the deal, Blinken said: “ending the war or moving it.”

Here, Blinken is referring to Trump’s 2020 deal with the Taliban, which would have fulfilled one of the president’s campaign promises to get the country out of the war.

The former president has been quite critical of Biden’s handling of the withdrawal. In discussing the situation, Trump has been open about the deal he and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo struck with the Taliban, but remained adamant that the deal would have been subject to the Taliban fulfilling a number of conditions and that He had an administration. handled the situation very differently.

Blinken then pointed to the administration’s successes during the crisis.

He said that in March, just weeks after Biden took office, the State Department was asking Americans to leave the country and offering to help them do so. At the same time, he claimed, the administration worked to expedite the processing of special immigrant visas (SIVs), a typically lengthy and arduous process under the permanent law; He said that the Trump administration has done very little on this front.

Reiterating an oft-cited refrain, Blinken said that the country’s rapid decay of the political and military situation defied all predictions. Blinken said that “even the most pessimistic prediction” did not indicate such an early collapse.

Democrats Criticize Biden Admin

The hearing began with the words of the chairman of the committee, Sen. Bob Menendez (DNJ). Shortly after the Taliban captured Kabul, Menendez promised that the committee would examine US policy on Afghanistan upon his return from the August recess.

Despite his general alignment with Biden politically, Menendez was critical of Afghanistan’s failure in his opening remarks. Menendez observed that “the execution of the American withdrawal was clearly and grossly flawed.” To make up for those loopholes, Menendez said, Blinken, representing the administration, would have to give Congress a full explanation of Biden’s decisions.

The country’s rapid collapse, Menendez said, showed him that the “constant administration lied to Congress” about the state of affairs in Afghanistan.

Speaking about reports about the Biden administration pursuing diplomatic ties with the Taliban terrorist organization, Menendez said that “there is no such thing as a reformed Taliban.” Strictly Islamic groups, he continued, “stuck and refuse in the 14th century”.[s] to come out.”

Further rejecting the notion of forging diplomatic ties with the terrorist group, Menendez argued that the administration should maintain current sanctions on the nation but also send humanitarian aid to its citizens, who are among the world’s poorest. .

If the administration was going to pursue these ties and recognize the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan, Menendez said, the group would have to meet a number of conditions before a positive relationship could be considered. Among these conditions, Menendez listed a complete renunciation of harboring terrorists, guaranteeing the rights of women and minorities, renouncing the drug trade as a benefit to the state, and the creation of a truly democratic and inclusive government.

Menendez said the information Congress had received from the Biden White House was “vague and contradictory.”

Later, Sen. Jean Shaheen (DNH) began her comment by saying that she “shares”[d] disappointment with [her] Associate.”

But like many Democrats in both houses, Shaheen felt the blame did not lie specifically with Biden, but with Trump and former presidents Barack Obama and George Bush. He said the fall of Afghanistan came from “both Democratic and Republican administrations”.

He rebuked Republicans for preventing Congress from bringing more special immigrant visa (SIV) applicants to the United States under Trump’s guidance. She added that “very sorry and so many accusations to go around.”

Near the end of the hearing, Liberal Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton’s former running mate, also expressed some doubts about the administration’s handling of the situation.

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Criticizing Blinken’s claim that “the most pessimistic predictions” do not show such an early collapse of Afghanistan, Kaine said, “I do not believe so.” He acknowledged that such negative assessments were probably not the opinion of the majority, but it was unlikely that they were not foreseen by any analyst.

Kaine, on the other hand, said that despite the problems handling the withdrawal, he felt the Biden administration had made the right choice to leave the country and end America’s longest war.

“I am relieved that a child born in Nova Fairfax today is not in a country at war,” Kaine said. Biden, Kaine continued, “had the courage to say, ‘This nation is not a nation that should be at war permanently.'”

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Still, while some Democrats acknowledged that Biden tolerated some of the blame and errors in executing the comeback, nearly all agreed that Trump also blamed a lot for the situation.

Republicans go on offense against ‘strategic windfall error’

While Democrats sought to place much of the blame for the unpopular fiasco on the Trump-era deal with the Taliban, Republicans were far more critical of the sitting administration.

Ranking minority member Sen. James Risk (R-Idaho) previously spoke for Republicans.

Like many other Republicans during the hearing, Risk acknowledged that he supported ending the war in Afghanistan, but not in the way that Biden’s administration carried out the logistics of ending the war.

The wrongful withdrawal of US troops, Risk said, was a “strategic unforced error” with dire consequences. Of these, Risk warned, the Taliban’s withdrawal and withdrawal had created “a safe haven for terrorists”. In addition, Risk said the confidence of US allies in the nation “has been shattered.”

Risch made it clear that he thought Trump should be blaming Biden as the incumbent president rather than brushing it off. He insisted that “the tragedy that occurred at the airport in Kabul was a disaster of its own making by the leadership and the administration.” He further emphasized that “the Biden administration alone is responsible for this debacle and its consequences.”

Later, Sen. Marcio Rubio (R-Fla.) expressed concern about the administration’s lack of preparation for the nation’s rapid collapse.

He mentioned several assessments he had seen that indicated “it was going to kill the fan.” Rubio continued, adding that with these assessments, “we had every reason to plan for the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and army.”

Rubio accused Biden of relying on “naive optimistic predictions” to advance his plans to leave the country by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Rubio ruled, “Either nobody saw it or nobody wanted to see it.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also said that Blinken and Biden presented the situation as “a smashing success” rather than “an extreme defeat”, indicating a serious “separation from reality”. . Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) commented on the same theme that this positive spin of the crisis is a “21st-century lie” and “delusion”.

Barrasso also added to Blinken, “You almost broke your shoulder while patting yourself on the back for your great work.”

Rand Paul has heated exchange with Blinken

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has long been against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, said he was glad the 20-year conflict was over. But, he continued, “never in my nightmare” would an administration have “enormous incompetence” to leave billions of dollars in military equipment for the Taliban.

Another example of this “huge inefficiency”, Paul said, was the sudden decision to leave Bagram Airfield without warning. He called it “one of the worst military decisions in our history” and warned Blinken that it would be “missed by the people.”

Paul also cited a report in The New York Times that said an aid worker was killed in a missile attack after he was misidentified as an ISIS-K operative carrying a bomb. When Paul asked Blinken about the veracity of this story, Blinken declined to comment beyond saying that the State Department was looking into the situation.

Paul quipped, “You’d think you’d know” whether the person was an aid worker or an ISIS-K terrorist “before using a Predator missile”.

Paul, who has often argued against such indiscriminate bombings, warned that if the reports were accurate and an aid worker was killed, the administration could create “hundreds or thousands of new terrorists.”

Instead, Paul suggested, the administration should focus on bombing helicopters and other military equipment rather than bombing anyone whose identity was not known.

Joseph Lord is a congressional reporter for The Epoch Times focusing on Democrats. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Clemson University and was a scholar on the Lyceum program.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

Biden admin faces bipartisan criticism over Afghanistan at Blinken Senate hearing
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