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Trump administration to blame in Afghanistan: NPR


Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears remotely on a television screen to answer questions from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at the Capitol in Washington, DC on Monday.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP


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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Trump administration to blame in Afghanistan: NPR

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears remotely on a television screen to answer questions from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, at the Capitol in Washington, DC on Monday.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday fended off harsh Republicans’ handling of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying the Biden administration inherited a deal with the Taliban to end the war, but no plan to carry it out.

In a sometimes controversial hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, Blinken sought to blunt complaints from angry GOP lawmakers about the administration’s response to the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and, more specifically , the actions of the State Department to evacuate Americans and others.

Blinken echoed the White House talking points blaming the Trump administration for the situation President Joe Biden inherited in Afghanistan. Republicans called the withdrawal a “disaster” and “dishonor”. And while some Democrats have admitted the operation could have been better handled, many have used their questions to rack up criticism against former President Donald Trump.

Republicans criticize Blinken

The State Department has come under heavy criticism from both sides for not doing enough and acting quickly enough to get US citizens, legal residents and at-risk Afghans out of the country after the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15. to let get stuck there, although Blinken couldn’t provide a number.

“It was an absolute disaster of epic proportions,” said Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the committee’s top Republican. He said the brutal withdrawal and leaving Americans and Afghans behind had “emboldened the Taliban” and other American adversaries. “I can sum it up in one word: betrayal.”

His GOP colleague Steve Chabot of Ohio was even more blunt. “It’s a shame,” he said.

Committee chairman, New York Representative Gregory Meeks, urged his colleagues to keep politics out of their criticism. But he admitted that there had been problems. “Could things have been done differently? Absolutely,” he said.

Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who has been ostracized by many GOP members for his criticism of Trump, blamed the situation on Trump and Biden. “The Trump administration failed in the setup and the Biden administration failed in the execution,” Kinzinger said.

No one knew how fast Kabul would fall, says Blinken

In the first two days of testimony in Congress, Blinken attempted to calmly deflect allegations of unpreparedness by noting that the Biden administration had inherited a US-Taliban peace deal from its predecessor, as well as a program. languid to grant visas to Afghans who had worked for the US government.

Blinken, who publicly predicted in June that a full Taliban takeover would not take place “from Friday to Monday,” also tried to avoid criticism of the prediction by noting that no one within government did not expect the Afghan government to fall so quickly. like he did.

“Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse as long as US forces remained,” Blinken said in prepared remarks released ahead of his appearance. He also defended the evacuation effort, saying it was successful despite almost insurmountable odds.

“The evacuation was an extraordinary effort – under the most difficult conditions imaginable – of our diplomats, military and intelligence professionals,” he said. “In the end, we completed one of the largest airlifts in history, with 124,000 people evacuated to safety.”

But Republicans, in particular, have asked for answers as to why American citizens were left behind in the chaotic days and weeks before the military completed its withdrawal on August 30.

No one knew how fast Kabul would fall, says Blinken

In a snapshot of GOP issues, the Republican National Committee released a statement earlier Monday with the headline “Fire Blinken,” demanding it be held accountable for what it described as a litany of failures.

“Blinken’s disastrous management of Afghanistan and weak leadership put American lives at risk, including the lives of Americans still trapped in Afghanistan,” the GOP committee said.

Blinken is very close to Biden and his job as America’s top diplomat is almost certainly secure, but criticism of the administration’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan is not confined to Republicans.

Many Democrats have also questioned the policy and expressed concern about stranded Americans, green card holders and Afghans who could face retaliation from the Taliban because of their work or ties to the US government in the United States. over the past 20 years.

State Department officials have acknowledged that the Congressional hearings could be controversial and possibly ugly, but many remain convinced that the U.S. military and other officials have done their best under extremely difficult circumstances – including the evacuation of the American embassy in Kabul and the crushing of thousands of people. desperate people at Kabul airport trying to leave the country.