WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, testifying at a congressional hearing on Monday, strongly defended the country’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, ending a two-decade war that was the worst in US history. There was a long war.
If US President Joe Biden had decided to keep armed forces in Afghanistan, “to defend itself and prevent a Taliban takeover, it would have required sending significantly more US forces into Afghanistan to prevent casualties – And with the prospect of restoring an impasse and being stuck in Afghanistan, under fire, indefinitely,” Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“There is no evidence that a longer stay would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government more resilient or self-reliant,” he said. “If 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in support, equipment and training weren’t enough, why would another year, or five, or 10, matter?”
Taliban insurgents took over the country in mid-August as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled to exile in the United Arab Emirates. The US evacuated 124,000 people, mostly Afghans, along with about 5,500 Americans, from Kabul airport in late August, leaving behind about 100 Americans.
Some Americans have since been able to exit the country by land or via a handful of flights, with the Taliban’s approval.
Blinken said US officials had not predicted the Afghan government’s collapse so quickly, even as the Taliban advanced across the country.
“Even the most pessimistic assessment did not predict that government forces in Kabul would fall, while US forces would remain,” he said.
Although the main evacuation has ended, the top US diplomat said, “We are continuing our tireless efforts to help any remaining Americans, as well as Afghans and citizens of allied and allied countries, leave Afghanistan if they wish.” Give.”
“As we have done throughout our history, Americans are now welcoming families from Afghanistan into our communities and helping them start their new lives,” Blinken said. “It’s also something to be proud of.”
Blinken is likely to face tough questioning when he appears before a House panel and then before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
Opposition Republican lawmakers and some of Biden’s Democratic allies have criticized the president’s way of returning soldiers, American citizens and thousands of Afghans who served as interpreters and advisers to the US military during the war.
Criticism was particularly expressed after 13 US service members were killed in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport in the short days of their return. Islamic State-Khorasan, an Afghan branch of the terrorist group operating in the Middle East, claimed responsibility.
A national poll of US voters shows widespread support for Biden’s decision to end the “forever war” in Afghanistan, but not the way the comeback has unfolded.
Blinken is likely to be asked why the US does not begin evacuating American citizens as soon as possible, especially since Biden signed former President Donald Trump’s agreement in April to end the war with the Taliban and withdraw US forces. announced its intention to honor
Lawmakers have also hit out at US intelligence-gathering for failing to predict a swift takeover by the Taliban and the fall of the Afghan government.
Republicans say they want to focus their question on Biden’s performance in the final weeks and days of the war, while Democrats are hoping to investigate the entire US war effort carried out under four presidents – Republican George W. . Bush and Trump, and Democrats Barack Obama and Biden.
Bush launched a war in late 2001 to wipe out the al-Qaeda terrorist training grounds where the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States took place. About 3,000 people were killed in attacks using hijacked American passenger planes. Last Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
Biden called the withdrawal an “extraordinary success” and defended the decision to end the war in Afghanistan, saying he would not hand over the management of US military involvement there to the fifth US leader.