Blinken faces demand for resignation in acrimonious begin to Afghanistan debacle overview

A listening to billed as the primary a part of a significant analysis of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan featured criticism of Secretary of State Antony Blinken and requires his resignation.

“Your weird abandoning of Bagram Airfield led on to 13 Marines murdered in Kabul,” Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, informed Blinken after endorsing a newspaper editorial that accused President Joe Biden of telling “six lies” about Afghanistan. “It is best to resign. I yield again.”

Blinken declined to acknowledge Wilson’s criticisms, merely thanking him for praising the standard of the State Division’s diplomatic corps as a substitute. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, got here to Blinken’s protection by recalling Wilson’s notorious interruption of President Barack Obama’s 2010 State of the Union handle.

“If I have been the member of Congress who dedicated a kind of grievous acts in a State of the Union handle — when the president of the USA, Mr. Obama, was our visitor, to shout out, ‘You lie,’ — I would take extra care about enumerating different alleged lies in a listening to with the secretary of state,” Connolly mentioned.


That alternate mirrored the sample of the listening to: Most Republicans attacked Blinken, whereas most Democrats defended him. Blinken, for his half, sought to pin the blame for the troubled withdrawal — which a outstanding German politician known as “the best debacle that NATO has seen since its basis” — on former President Donald Trump’s method to negotiating the U.S.-Taliban peace deal that set the stage for the U.S. withdrawal.

“We inherited a deadline,” Blinken mentioned, referring to the Might 1 withdrawal deadline inked within the deal. “We didn’t inherit a plan.”

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Blinken criticized that deal all through his look.

“As a part of that settlement, the earlier administration pressed the Afghan authorities to launch 5,000 Taliban prisoners — together with some high battle commanders. In the meantime, it diminished our personal power presence to 2,500 troops,” he mentioned in his opening assertion. “By January 2021, the Taliban was within the strongest navy place it had been in since 9/11 — and we had the smallest variety of troops on the bottom since 2001.”

The deal was negotiated by State Division particular consultant Zalmay Khalilzad, a Trump appointee whom Blinken determined to retain as level man for the Afghanistan peace course of after Biden took workplace.

“It is necessary to remind individuals, the Trump administration failed within the setup, and I feel the Biden administration completely failed within the execution of this,” mentioned Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican.

Blinken confronted quite a few rebukes for the lack of U.S. navy tools, which he countered by observing the Taliban don’t have the abilities to make use of that know-how.

“A lot of it, based mostly on what I perceive from my colleagues at [the Defense Department], is inoperable or quickly will turn into inoperable as a result of it must be maintained,” he mentioned.

That assertion dovetails with a associated criticism that Biden crippled the Afghan navy by withdrawing the U.S. mechanics who keep their warplanes, at the same time as he argued the U.S. may withdraw with out fearing a Taliban takeover due to the central authorities’s benefit in air energy.

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“We had constructed [the Afghan] navy in our personal picture, that relied on airpower, that relied on logistics, after which we pulled our logistics and airpower assist from the Afghan navy,” Kinzinger mentioned.

Whereas Blinken mentioned the rapidity of the Taliban takeover caught the Biden workforce without warning, one in all his allies implied U.S. officers foresaw the chance.

“I sat in lots of hearings, sat in lots of categorized and open briefings, as we have been numerous eventualities of what that withdrawal seems like, what the capabilities of the Afghan authorities have been,” mentioned Rep. Ami Bera, a California Democrat. “And sadly, the worst-case state of affairs performed out, and the photographs that we noticed popping out of Afghanistan have been painful, frankly, in the previous couple of weeks of August.”

For essentially the most half, the listening to was a return to forming a committee that had a tempestuous relationship with Blinken’s predecessor. It was a task reversal for lawmakers who confronted off final yr with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a listening to so acrimonious that Kinzinger marveled that Democrats have been so desperate to interrupt Pompeo, they thwarted their very own traces of questioning.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, a New York Republican, echoed Wilson’s denunciation of Blinken.

“This was fatally flawed, poorly executed — we had the lack of U.S. service members because of this,” Zeldin informed Blinken. “What we must always have achieved was inform the Taliban that we’re going to go away Afghanistan once we’re achieved bringing each final American house … And I consider that you simply, sir, ought to resign. That will be management.”

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