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‘Unmitigated disaster’ – Republicans pick at Biden’s defense of Afghan pullout By Reuters


© Reuters. A general view at the U.S. House Armed Services Committee hearing “Ending U.S. Military Mission In Afghanistan”, in Washington, U.S.A, September 29, 2021. Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS


By Phil Stewart and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. lawmakers tried on Wednesday to pick apart President Joe Biden’s defense of his withdrawal from Afghanistan as they attacked his judgment and honesty during a second day of contentious Congressional hearings with Pentagon leaders.

Biden faced his biggest crisis as a president over Afghanistan. After 20 years of interminable fighting, the conflict had led to American deaths, depleted resources, and shifted attention to more important strategic priorities.

Republicans have accused him of lying about military commanders’ recommendations to keep 2,500 troops in the country, of playing down their warnings of the risks of a collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, and of exaggerating America’s ability to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for militant groups like al Qaeda.

Mike Rogers (NYSE :), the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee’s top Republican, said that he fears the president might be delusional and called the withdrawal an “unmitigated catastrophe.”

Rogers stated that the withdrawal will be remembered as “one of America’s greatest leadership failures.”

Biden’s approval ratings have been badly damaged by last month’s spectacular collapse of the two-decade war effort, which ended in a chaotic withdrawal that left U.S. troops dead and American citizens behind.

General Frank McKenzie of the U.S. Central Command stated that he had spoken with the commander in Afghanistan and recommended the retention of 2,500 U.S. soldiers as well as thousands additional coalition troops in Afghanistan.

According to McKenzie, he told the House committee that his warnings about a withdrawal from Afghanistan would result in the fall of both the Afghan army and government.

McKenzie stated, “That’s in fact what has happened.”

In an August interview, Biden denied his commanders had recommended keeping 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. He stated that he was not aware of any commanders who had recommended keeping 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. That was the last time anyone said it to me.

Biden was accused by Republicans of lying. They also pointed to his pledges not to abandon Americans and mocked his July assurances that Afghanistan would never become another Vietnam.

Joe Wilson, Republican Representative said “The president needs to resign.”

General Mark Milley of Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the withdrawal to zero had an important impact on Afghan soldiers’ morale. These troops had grown to depend upon U.S. aid for everything, from intelligence support and air, to training and maintenance.

Milley said that while the U.S.’s airlift of 124,000 civilians from Afghanistan was a success logistically, he also acknowledged that it was a strategy failure. This meant that the Taliban were back at power following America’s longest war.

Democrats faulted Republicans who blamed Biden for the failures during Afghanistan’s 20-year-long war. Biden has been President since January.

The agreement to withdraw all U.S. troops was first reached by former President Donald Trump (a Republican).

The Democratic chair of the committee, Adam Smith, stated that he supported Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also accused Republicans of trying political points.

Smith claimed that the larger mission, which was to assist in building a government in Afghanistan capable of defeating Taliban and governing it effectively, had been abandoned.

President Biden finally had the guts to tell us no. We aren’t succeeding with this mission.