Blinken lays blame on Trump as he defends messy withdrawal from Afghanistan

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source: https://www.politico.com

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday vigorously defended the Biden administration’s choice to withdraw all U.S. Troops from Afghanistan and his enterprise’s managing of the chaotic and lethal evacuation project from the struggle-torn united states of america, arguing that the president “inherited” a disaster-in-the-making from Donald Trump.

In testimony earlier than the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken stated the U.S. Is committed to evacuating the 100 or so Americans who nevertheless need to depart the u . S .. But he declined to say whether or not the U.S. Could be able to evacuate the thousands of Afghan allies who carried out for visas and who are prone to retribution from the Taliban.

“We inherited a deadline. We did now not inherit a plan,” said Blinken, who is no stranger to congressional oversight, having previously served on then-Sen. Joe Biden’s group of workers while the Delawarean chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Blinken stated the Biden management became handcuffed by using Trump’s settlement with the Taliban, which in element reduced the U.S. Troop presence to 2,500 by the time Biden took office. With the Taliban persevering with its “relentless” military marketing campaign regardless of that settlement, Blinken stated, Biden “without delay confronted the selection among ending the warfare or escalating it.”

“Had [Biden] not accompanied through on his predecessor’s dedication, attacks on our forces and those of our allies would have resumed and the Taliban’s national assault on Afghanistan’s important cities might have commenced,” Blinken said.

Several Democratic-led congressional committees are already investigating the withdrawal, a dynamic that threatens to complicate Biden’s attempt to sell the pullout as important and the following evacuation operation — which resulted in the airlift of extra than one hundred twenty,000 human beings — as a fulfillment.

While Republicans zeroed in on the recent activities that brought about the autumn of Kabul, Democrats sought to broaden the scope of the hearing to include an exam of the errors made below presidents of each events for almost two many years.

“We are seeing home politics injected into foreign coverage,” Foreign Affairs Chair Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) stated of Republicans’ criticisms of the Biden management’s Afghanistan withdrawal. Meeks added that the committee might pay attention from officials from the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations, too, as a part of the panel’s evaluation.

The State Department has already recounted that hundreds of Afghan allies who implemented for Special Immigrant Visas had been left in the back of, in addition to numerous hundred Americans, when the very last U.S. Troops left Afghanistan on Aug. 31. (Some of those U.S. Citizens have in view that been evacuated from the u . S ..)

“Our standing on the sector stage has been substantially diminished,” said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee. He accused Blinken of “betraying” those Afghan allies.

Lawmakers from each parties had criticized the Biden administration for not starting the evacuations of those susceptible Afghans faster, especially the SIV applicants and their families. Many of them served as translators and interpreters for the U.S. Military throughout the conflict.

That delay forced a scramble inside the U.S. Authorities, with Biden sending greater than five,000 troops to relaxed the principle airport in Kabul, wherein the U.S.-led evacuation undertaking became founded.

Blinken again shifted the blame to the Trump administration, arguing that Biden “inherited” a damaged SIV application that included a backlog of 17,000 visas.

“There had no longer been a single interview of an SIV applicant in Kabul in 9 months, going returned to March of 2020,” Blinken stated. “The program become basically in a dead stall.”

In response to criticism from Republicans approximately U.S. Citizens being left in the back of in Afghanistan, Blinken said U.S. Diplomatic workforce began urging Americans to leave the united states as early as March. Still, Biden mentioned remaining month that “this did spread more quickly than we had predicted,” but argued that the rapid fall apart of the Afghan government showed that it was the “right choice” to leave Afghanistan.

“There’s no proof that staying longer would have made the Afghan protection forces or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining,” Blinken said. “If 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in help, device and schooling did now not suffice, why could another yr, or five, or 10, make a difference?”

Blinken later addressed the U.S. Counterterrorism method for Afghanistan, a first-rate blind spot for lawmakers as officers warn of the possibility that the u . S . A . Once more turns into a safe haven for terrorist groups like al Qaeda. Blinken stated the U.S. Continues so-known as over-the-horizon counterterrorism skills, however he acknowledged that the ones are restricting without boots or bases on the floor.

“We will remain hyper-vigilant about any reemergence” of a chance from al Qaeda and different terror groups, Blinken added.