U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement regarding the foreseeable, deteriorating situation in Afghanistan:
“Just a few months ago, America had 2,500 American troops in Afghanistan conducting critical special operations and intelligence missions to fight and defeat terrorist organizations to protect American families — that was what we were always there to do. Our limited but meaningful presence in Afghanistan was clearly the last and strongest line of defense between peace and war and between life and death. Thousands of Afghans put their lives on the line to work with us to advance our shared security goals, and they now face a tragic fate.
“President Biden owns this mess — the blood is on his hands. He had a choice; instead of choosing the responsible approach, he chose to rely on political polls, not data from his military leaders and the intelligence community about the conditions on the ground. Under President Trump, we correctly set conditions for the withdrawal of those troops — conditions that were never met. We are seeing now that a conditions-based, strategic withdrawal, which I’ve always advocated for, was indeed the right path forward, and a hasty, full-scale, telegraphed retreat is clearly the wrong path. President Biden did not inherit the current withdrawal from President Trump — in fact, he has deviated from the previous administration’s plan and set his own disastrous course.
“Over the last 48 hours, we have doubled the number of military personnel in Afghanistan that we just withdrew — but only to facilitate a disgraceful exit that will cap off a total failure. Let’s call it what it is: a chaotic retreat requiring a messy noncombatant evacuation operation. On President Biden’s watch, we have allowed the resurgence of the Taliban and with that, the resurgence of terrorist organizations. Terrorist masterminds are being released from prison as we speak, the country is once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists — all conditions that resulted in the tragedy of 9/11 two decades ago. Just as bad, we have left a security vacuum for our number-one threat, the Chinese Communist Party, to fill. They’ve already pledged to recognize a Taliban-led government. Our diplomatic presence in Afghanistan — which President Biden said is the ‘center of our foreign policy’ — has shrunk to almost nothing. I’ve always said that a strong military underscores effective diplomacy — this has been made clear in the past few days.
“My heart is breaking for the people of Afghanistan, who are being forced to reckon with the consequences of President Biden’s mistake. Although it’s hard to fathom how the country fell so quickly, no one can say this wasn’t expected. I’m not happy to have been right about this, but that’s nothing compared to those experiencing a humanitarian crisis or what we’ll feel when we see the reemergence of terror networks.
“President Biden needs to admit he made a strategic mistake leading to tragic consequences for U.S. national security and the Afghan people. He should have learned from his previous experience in Iraq as then-vice president, when the U.S. was forced to return to counter ISIS after a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces. America is now less safe, and we need to focus on evacuating our people, and the Afghans who assisted us while we were there, to safe locations.”