Samuel Case, FISM NEWS
On Monday Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he was grilled by Republicans for his role in the disastrous pullout from Afghanistan that resulted in the death of American servicemen and the abandoning of U.S. citizens and allies. Blinken acknowledged before the committee that approximately 100 Americans were still trapped in Afghanistan.
The hearing opened with top Republican Michael McCaul calling the withdrawal an “unmitigated disaster of epic proportions”:
Over the last several weeks, we witnessed Afghanistan rapidly fall to the Taliban in the chaotic aftermath that followed. This did not have to happen . . . This was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. I never thought in my lifetime that I would see an unconditional surrender to the Taliban.
Republican Christopher Smith pressed Blinken on the details of a leaked phone call between President Biden and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, where Biden asked the Afghan leader to lie about the situation on the ground weeks before the Taliban rose to power. Blinken said he would not “comment on leaked transcripts of phone calls,” a reply that White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki also gave when news of the call first broke.
Meanwhile the Democratic chairman, Gregory Meeks, tried to soften the blame on the Biden administration, saying that a clean withdrawal option did not exist. Meeks claimed Republicans “are really just angry that the president made good on his pledge to end America’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. They are masking their displeasure with criticism, but fail to offer feasible alternatives.”
For his part Blinken placed blame on the Trump administration for leaving Biden with a deadline to leave with no plan, saying that while the Taliban violated Trump’s deal the result of staying would be even deadlier. “Attacks on our forces and those of our allies would have resumed and the Taliban’s nationwide assault on Afghanistan’s major cities would have commenced,” Blinken said.
Despite the blame shifting, polling suggests the American people place blame with Biden, not Trump, with Rasmussen showing 52% say Biden should resign over the withdrawal, including 32% of Democrats saying he should step down.
Beyond blaming Trump, Blinken tried to spin the evacuation as an “extraordinary effort,” considering the U.S. did not believe Kabul would fall to the Taliban with such speed. The secretary also asserted that further effort in the region would not have prevented the region from collapsing, saying: “There’s no evidence that staying longer would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining,”
On the same day as the hearing the Daily Caller broke news that “The U.S. Department of State, for a week, failed to respond to a Republican congressman’s request to help American citizens and others trying to evacuate Afghanistan,” under Secretary Blinken’s leadership. The Caller reports that after several days the Department told the congressman “that American citizens and their families still in Afghanistan should ‘make contingency plans to leave when it is safe to do so that [they] do not rely on U.S. government assistance.’”
Blinken is set to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.