President Joe Biden today defended the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, acknowledging the Taliban gained control of the country more quickly than expected, but saying, if anything, that only confirmed that leaving was the right thing to do:
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said.
When Biden announced plans for the withdrawal in April, he insisted the United States had accomplished the anti-terror objectives leaders had set when troops were first sent into Afghanistan in 2001 shortly after 9/11. He said the Western Allies' presence in Afghanistan was never about nation-building and he would not be the fourth U.S. President to send America's sons and daughters to fight a war that was not in our national interest.
"After 20 years," Biden said today, "I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces."
Still, Biden has faced withering criticism from Republicans as the world sees images of Taliban fighters on the streets of Kabul and a chaotic scene at the airport -- U.S. transport planes evacuating trying to take off as thousands of desperate Afghans run alongside on the tarmac, hoping to escape.
The Oklahoma congressional delegation has been blunt.
“President Biden owns this mess — the blood is on his hands,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-OK, in a statement yesterday.
Sen. Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized Biden’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan when he first announced it and has reiterated his concerns on several occasions since then, pointing out that Biden’s plan was not the same as the withdrawal initiated by former President Trump in February 2020.
“Under President Trump, we correctly set conditions for the withdrawal of those troops — conditions that were never met,” Inhofe’s statement continues. “We are seeing now that a conditions-based, strategic withdrawal, which I’ve always advocated for, was indeed the right path forward, and a hasty, full-scale, telegraphed retreat is clearly the wrong path.”
Congressman Tom Cole, R-OK, called the situation in Afghanistan a “human tragedy and a severe threat to the long-term security and credibility of the United States.”
“A disaster of this magnitude has many causes and involves multiple administrations and Congresses,” said Cole, also in a written statement. “However, there is no doubt that the Biden Administration’s decision to ignore the advice of military experts led to this precipitate and chaotic collapse on the ground.”
The full statements from members of the delegation:
INHOFE ON CATASTROPHE IN AFGHANISTAN:
‘BIDEN OWNS THIS’
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the foreseeable, deteriorating situation and noncombatant evacuation operation in Afghanistan:
“Just a few months ago, America had 2,500 American troops in Afghanistan conducting critical special operations and intelligence missions to fight and defeat terrorist organizations to protect American families — that was what we were always there to do. Our limited but meaningful presence in Afghanistan was clearly the last and strongest line of defense between peace and war and between life and death. Thousands of Afghans put their lives on the line to work with us to advance our shared security goals, and they now face a tragic fate.
“President Biden owns this mess — the blood is on his hands. He had a choice; instead of choosing the responsible approach, he chose to rely on political polls, not data from his military leaders and the intelligence community about the conditions on the ground. Under President Trump, we correctly set conditions for the withdrawal of those troops — conditions that were never met. We are seeing now that a conditions-based, strategic withdrawal, which I’ve always advocated for, was indeed the right path forward, and a hasty, full-scale, telegraphed retreat is clearly the wrong path. President Biden did not inherit the current withdrawal from President Trump — in fact, he has deviated from the previous administration’s plan and set his own disastrous course.
“Over the last 48 hours, we have doubled the number of military personnel in Afghanistan that we just withdrew — but only to facilitate a disgraceful exit that will cap off a total failure. Let’s call it what it is: a chaotic retreat requiring a messy noncombatant evacuation operation. On President Biden’s watch, we have allowed the resurgence of the Taliban and with that, the resurgence of terrorist organizations. Terrorist masterminds are being released from prison as we speak, the country is once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists — all conditions that resulted in the tragedy of 9/11 two decades ago. Just as bad, we have left a security vacuum for our number-one threat, the Chinese Communist Party, to fill. They’ve already pledged to recognize a Taliban-led government. Our diplomatic presence in Afghanistan — which President Biden said is the ‘center of our foreign policy’ — has shrunk to almost nothing. I’ve always said that a strong military underscores effective diplomacy — this has been made clear in the past few days.
“My heart is breaking for the people of Afghanistan, who are being forced to reckon with the consequences of President Biden’s mistake. Although it’s hard to fathom how the country fell so quickly, no one can say this wasn’t expected. I’m not happy to have been right about this, but that’s nothing compared to those experiencing a humanitarian crisis or what we’ll feel when we see the reemergence of terror networks.
“President Biden needs to admit he made a strategic mistake leading to tragic consequences for U.S. national security and the Afghan people. He should have learned from his previous experience in Iraq as then-vice president, when the U.S. was forced to return to counter ISIS after a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces. America is now less safe, and we need to focus on evacuating our people, and the Afghans who assisted us while we were there, to safe locations.”
Cole Statement on the Disastrous Situation in Afghanistan
Moore, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, released the following statement in response to the ongoing and worsening situation in Afghanistan.
“The unfolding and accelerating disaster in Afghanistan is a human tragedy and a severe threat to the long-term security and credibility of the United States,” said Cole. “No American should doubt that our enemies around the world are celebrating this defeat. The fact that even our own safe evacuation of the embassy is requiring the redeployment of U.S. troops underscores the Biden Administration’s lack of understanding of the situation on the ground. They were, unfortunately, taken completely by surprise at the Taliban’s utter and almost instantaneous reconquering of the nation.
“More importantly, those adversaries will take the collapse of the Afghan government as a sign of American weakness and lack of resolve. We can expect our enemies to try and exploit this setback by challenging the United States on a range of fronts in a variety of ways.
“Americans should have no illusions about the nature of the evil regime about to take power in Afghanistan. The Taliban are enemies of America. They hosted and sheltered Osama bin Laden, and they maintain robust relations with the likes of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. They can be expected to impose a brutal, medieval fundamentalist Islamic regime that will oppress minorities and women. It will be the antithesis of the democratic and egalitarian values championed by the United States.
“A disaster of this magnitude has many causes and involves multiple administrations and Congresses. However, there is no doubt that the Biden Administration’s decision to ignore the advice of military experts led to this precipitate and chaotic collapse on the ground. The president was warned repeatedly that the modest American force in Afghanistan that he chose to withdraw was critical to maintaining stability and holding the Taliban at bay. Unfortunately, the president ignored that advice in the interest of making a desired political point, and now he must accept his share of the responsibility for this humiliating national defeat and for the human tragedy that inevitably will unfold on the ground.
“Indeed, we can expect the Taliban and other terrorists and extremists to exploit this reckless abandonment of the people and principles we spent decades of blood and treasure to protect. We can expect them to challenge us on other fronts,” concluded Cole.
Lucas Statement on Afghanistan Collapse: “Failure of American Leadership”
Cheyenne, OK – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement in response to President Biden’s address to the nation and the ongoing and deteriorating situation in Afghanistan:
“The Biden Administration’s exit, and subsequent collapse of the Afghan government, is a failure of American leadership.
“While the campaign in Afghanistan had many authors across multiple Administrations and Congresses, the accelerating conquest of the Afghan government and its people by the Taliban is a direct result of the Biden Administration’s hastily executed withdrawal. For months, U.S. military leaders and the intelligence community warned of the disastrous consequences a quickened withdrawal would have: the persecution of Afghan allies, the challenges of safely evacuating U.S. personnel, and the foreseeable rise of threats from the likes of the Taliban, ISIS, and al Qaeda. Now, merely hours after the fall of Kabul, we face the moral and strategic consequences of this administration’s failed leadership and President Biden faces his own Saigon moment.
“With the U.S. Embassy in Kabul all but closed and many Afghans stranded, President Biden’s reckless strategy left the Afghan men and women who risked their lives to assist U.S. forces abandoned and with little hope. The brave Afghan men and women who assisted U.S. and Allied forces are now at the mercy of the Taliban, where their fate remains in peril because of the broken promise that they would be saved.
“The fall of Afghanistan rests squarely on the shoulders of our current Commander-in-Chief. The strategic missteps of President Biden further threaten U.S. national security, undoubtedly blight the credibility of our nation’s for generations to come, and all but ensure the influence of Russia and China in the region.
“While it’s clear our mission has evolved in the region, the U.S. cannot simply abandon our allies. President Biden must continue to provide the support needed to ensure terrorists organizations do not once again gain a foothold in the region. The service of America’s brave men and women in uniform and the allies who stood beside us for the past 20 years must not be taken in vain.”
Hern statement on the situation in Afghanistan
TULSA, OK – Representative Kevin Hern released the following statement on the Taliban’s violent takeover of Afghanistan, destruction of democracy.
“The foreign policy disaster unfolding in Afghanistan, which many previously predicted, seems to come as a surprise to President Biden and his Administration,” said Rep. Hern. “Now, they are caught flat-footed and seem to have no answers to the questions that Americans are asking. This morning, I and my colleagues attempted to get answers from the Biden Administration including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. These individuals have been left leaderless by a vacationing President Biden and they refused to let Republicans ask important questions including:
“What is the Biden Administration’s plans for protecting Americans abroad including many who are still in Afghanistan?
“With reports and video of thousands of terrorists being freed from jails in Afghanistan, what is Biden doing to keep our citizens safe, including protecting the gaping hole on our southern boarder?
“What is the status of the taxpayer-funded, high-tech equipment left behind for the Afghan Security Forces?”
Rep. Hern concluded, “It is past time for President Biden to end his vacation, return to the White House, and face the realities of his destructive foreign affairs decisions. Putting America first doesn’t mean putting Americans’ security last. Biden’s botched withdrawal has put American lives and those of our allies in jeopardy.”
Sen. James Lankford Tweet:
The rapid return of the Taliban in Afghanistan due to the rapid withdrawal of US forces was seen by almost everyone except Biden. The lack of a coherent plan by this administration led to the chaotic collapse of the nation and the disorderly withdrawal of US forces & contractors.
The Afghan people went from living in freedom to living under a reign of terror in less than two weeks. We should bring the majority of our troops home, but leaving Afghanistan unstable only creates fertile ground for future terror attacks.
Those who have served and those who have paid the ultimate price in Afghanistan over the past 20 years to protect American lives and to bring stability to the region should be honored and remembered for their blood, pain and sacrifice.