'We all Share in it': Senators Split on Who is to Blame for 'Embarrassing Retreat' from Afghanistan
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent his second day in a Capitol Hill hot seat answering questions about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
As senators on the Foreign Relations Committee grilled Blinken on why things went so wrong with the withdrawal, Blinken argued it was a long time coming.
Both Republicans and Democrats acknowledged the withdrawal was a "debacle" but each side had a different idea of who is to blame.
"The rushed and embarrassing retreat is a stain on America's credibility that will have repercussions for years to come," said Sen. James Risch (R-ID).
Risch argued the Biden administration should've stuck to the withdrawal plan he helped the Trump administration put together, while Sec. Blinken claimed there was no such plan.
Democrats also made the argument that the catastrophe at the Kabul airport was years in the making due to a backlog in the Special Immigrant Visa process.
"Let's stop with the hypocrisy about who is to blame – there are a lot of people to blame and we all share in it," claimed Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Blinken said President Biden was faced with a choice to end the war this year or escalate it.
"By January of 2021, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 9/11, and we had the smallest number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan since 2001," Blinken told the senators. "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, hundreds of billions of dollars in support equipment training did not suffice, why would another year, another five, another ten?"
Blinken claims the emergency withdrawal and chaos at the Kabul airport was sparked by the shockingly fast 11-day collapse of the Afghan government.
"Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that the government forces in Kabul would collapse while U.S. forces remained," continued Sec. Blinken.
But Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) wasn't buying that excuse.
"This wasn't a failure of intelligence this was a failure of policy and planning," Rubio told Blinken. "We have the wrong people analyzing this. Someone didn't see this, either someone didn't see this or someone didn't want to see this because we'd established that we wanted to be out by Sept 11th."
A few senators stressed the need to stop looking back and start coming up with solutions for problems like how to get the remaining U.S. citizens who want to leave out of Afghanistan and how to support the Afghan women facing an uncertain future in the country.
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