September 14, (NaijaOnPoint Media) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rose up in stout defense of President Joe Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan pullout during a rowdy hearing in which Republican lawmakers demanded his resignation.
Tennessee Republican Tim Burchett, referring to the 13 service members who were killed, “their blood is on your hands and this administration’s, sir. I call on you to resign.”
In a hearing that gave lawmakers their first chance to publicly question a senior administration official over the U.S. troop withdrawal and the evacuation of some 124,000 people, Burchett, like several Republicans, sought to keep the focus on the final chaotic weeks as U.S. forces evacuated, and a suicide bomb at Kabul’s airport killed 13 U.S. service members and Americans and others stranded when the final troops departed.
Enmeshed in a robust and fiery exchange with lawmakers, Blinken defended President Joe Biden’s decision to pull out and pushed back on accusations that the State Department might have done more to help Americans and at-risk Afghans to be evacuated, blaming the previous administration for lacking a plan.
“We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan,” Blinken said, referring to the Trump administration’s agreement to remove all US forces from Afghanistan by May 1. “There’s no evidence that staying longer would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining.”
He appeared on Monday before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and was to testify on Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the first Biden administration official to testify publicly to lawmakers since the militant group’s takeover.
Instead, he said lessons should be learned, including that “using military force to try to remake a society is something that is beyond our means, beyond our capacity.”
The entire proceeding turned into a finger-pointing session over the abrupt termination of the 20-year US presence in the country ended.
Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a Trump critic, told Blinken, “The Trump administration failed in the setup, and the Biden administration absolutely failed in the execution of this.”
“The American people don’t like to lose, especially not to the terrorists. But this is exactly what has happened,” said Republican Representative Michael McCaul. “This is a national security threat as China moves in.”
Lawmakers criticized the U.S. administration’s withdrawal, pointing out that the new government in Kabul included known terrorists.
Members of Congress asked a long list of questions about the rapid collapse of the US-backed Afghan government and the Biden administration’s scramble to evacuate 124,000 people, including Americans and at-risk Afghans.
“I would welcome hearing what exactly a smooth withdrawal from a messy chaotic 20-year war looks like,” said Representative Gregory Meeks, the committee’s Chairman.
Blinken praised the evacuation as “a heroic effort” by diplomats, the military and intelligence officers. He pledged that the United States would continue to support humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, not the Taliban.
“We need to do everything we can to make sure the people of Afghanistan don’t suffer any more than is already the case,” Blinken said.
As the United Nations and other groups warn of a humanitarian catastrophe in the country, Blinken said the U.S. will provide $64 million in new humanitarian aid to Afghanistan that “will not flow through the government” but instead through non-governmental organizations.
Blinken reiterated comments that the U.S. will hold Taliban leaders to their commitment not to let Afghanistan become a safe haven for terrorism and that the U.S. will “remain vigilant in monitoring threats.”
A US-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001 after the Sep 11 attacks masterminded by al Qaeda leaders based in Afghanistan.