Blinken defends United States withdrawal from Afghanistan in front of Congress
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State: “Upon taking office, President Biden immediately faced the choice between ending the war or escalating it. Had he not followed through on his predecessor’s commitment, attacks on our forces and those our allies would have resumed and the Taliban’s nationwide assault on Afghanistan’s major cities would have commenced. That would have required sending substantially more U.S. forces into Afghanistan to defend themselves and prevent a Taliban takeover, taking casualties, and with at best prospect restoring a stalemate and remaining stuck in Afghanistan under fire indefinitely. There’s no evidence that staying longer would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining. If 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in support, equipment and training did not suffice, why would another year, another five, another 10?
“Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while U.S. forces remain. As General Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, nothing I or anyone else saw indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days.”
“The evacuation itself was an extraordinary effort under the most difficult conditions imaginable by our diplomats, by our military, by our intelligence professionals. They worked around the clock to get American citizens, Afghans who helped us, citizens of our allies and partners and at-risk Afghans on planes, out of the country and off to the United States, or to transit locations that our diplomats had arranged and negotiated in multiple countries.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks, (D) New York, Chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee: “The choice before President Biden was between a full withdrawal and the surging of thousands of Americans to Afghanistan for an undefined time. To argue that there was a third option, a limited troop presence where the safety of our personnel could be preserve in my mind is a fantasy.”
Rep. Michael McCaul, (R) Texas, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee: “This did not have to happen. But the president refused to listen to his own generals and the intelligence community who warned him precisely what would happen when we withdrew. This was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. I never thought in my lifetime that I would see an unconditional surrender to the Taliban.”