Secretary of State Antony Blinken maintained that the U.S. exit from Afghanistan was the right decision despite the disastrous results that led, among other things, to the death of 13 American soldiers in a terrorist attack in Kabul.
In an appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken insisted on the arguments outlined by President Joe Biden about the need to end the largest military intervention in U.S. history.
“There is no evidence that if we had stayed longer, we would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government more resilient or self-sufficient. If 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in support, equipment, and training wasn’t enough, why would one, five, or ten more have been enough?” he said.
Blinken stressed that the U.S. has long since achieved “the two objectives that brought it to Afghanistan: to bring justice to those responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001, and to ensure that they would not do it again.”
Specifically, he cited the killing of Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in a military operation in Pakistan in 2011 and the terrorist group’s diminished ability to carry out attacks since then.
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At the hearing, Blinken was sharply criticized by Republican opponents, who charged the hasty departure and scenes of chaos and anguish at the Kabul airport, where thousands of people crowded to try to board one of the U.S. and allied planes to escape the country.
“The American people don’t like to lose, especially to terrorists. I never thought in my life that I could see an unconditional surrender to the Taliban,” remarked Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican on the committee.
Blinken says Taliban committed to preventing terrorism
The secretary of state assured that the Taliban are “committed” to preventing the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations against the United States or its allies by al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group’s branch in the region.
“We will hold them accountable. It doesn’t mean we’re going to trust them,” Blinken said.
He warned, therefore, that Washington will remain “vigilant” and with a “robust counterterrorism capability” in the area.
Between Aug. 14 and Aug. 30, the United States helped 124,000 people out of Kabul airport in what Biden called “one of the largest evacuation missions in history,” and has so far received more than 45,000 Afghan refugees on U.S. soil.