Biden’s Allies Defend Afghanistan Withdrawal Amid Taliban Surge
“Another fifty years wouldn’t change anything,” said Sen. Chris Murphy.
Even as the Taliban captures large swaths of Afghanistan more quickly than predicted, some on the left are defending President Joe Biden’s order to pull out all American troops.
The Taliban on Thursday took control of Herat, Afghanistan's third-largest city, the latest win in an offensive that has seen the group take control of 12 provincial capitals. Though the intelligence community predicted in June that the Taliban could overrun Kabul within six to 12 months after the American departure on Aug. 31, officials now expect the Taliban will seize the capital within the next 90 days, the Washington Post reported.
In response, the Pentagon is sending 3,000 troops to Kabul to make sure the airport is safe to quickly evacuate U.S. embassy staff and Afghans who worked with American troops over the last two decades.
But rather than arguing for redeploying troops to the country to halt the Taliban’s surge in the long-term, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., instead made the case that the fall of many districts to the group is actually proof that the United States should stick with its plan to withdraw all troops by the end of the month.
“The complete, utter failure of the Afghan National Army, absent our hand holding, to defend their country is a blistering indictment of a failed 20-year strategy predicated on the belief that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars could create an effective, democratic central government in a nation that never had one,” said Murphy, a top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and supporter of the Biden administration’s foreign policy.
“Staying one more year in Afghanistan means we stay forever, because if twenty years of laborious training and equipping of the Afghan security forces had this little impact on their ability to fight, then another fifty years wouldn’t change anything,” he continued in remarks on the Senate floor.
The Biden administration has shown no appetite to reverse course, even as the violence grows and former officials have called on the White House to send troops back into the country. On Tuesday, Biden told reporters that it’s up to the Afghans to fight the Taliban for control of their country, while emphasizing that the United States would continue to provide financial support to the Afghan military.
“They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation,” he said. “I do not regret my decision.”
In deeply divided Washington, it’s an argument that has drawn bipartisan support.
“What’s happening in Afghanistan now would’ve happened if we got out 10 yrs ago & would happen if we stayed 10 more yrs,” tweeted Joe Walsh, a former Republican member of Congress from Illinois and 2020 presidential candidate. “After 20 yrs, the country will fall to the Taliban within 30 days.”
Other Republicans, however, are using the Taliban’s gains as a political talking point against the president. They say Biden’s decision to pull out by September is what started all of the chaos in Afghanistan, even though the initial decision to withdraw was made by former President Donald Trump.
“We all saw this coming, we all tried to warn President Biden away from this decision—but unfortunately, what we predicted is coming to pass,” Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said in a statement. “Deploying additional military personnel to support this effort—something that wouldn’t have been necessary if President Biden had listened to what I’ve been saying all along—is the right thing to do now to stanch some of the pain and bloodshed President Biden’s decision has caused.”