'Make no mistake: whether America is on the ground or over the horizon, the war in Afghanistan will continue. And Americans will not be safer with the Taliban ruling from Kabul. We will not be safer when al-Qaeda regains a safe haven and inspires a new generation of global jihadists. And we won't be safer when coalition partners doubt they can trust our word.'
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks Wednesday, August 4, 2021 on the Senate floor regarding Afghanistan:
"In April, when President Biden announced his intention to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, he said it was, quote, 'time to end the forever wars'.
"But at every stage of the rushed and rudderless retreat that has followed, the Biden Administration's wishful thinking hasn't come within a country mile of the reality.
"By any account, the situation in Afghanistan has become worse as we have headed to the exits. We will live with the security, humanitarian, and moral consequences for years to come.
"And this whole debacle was not only foreseeable; it was foreseen.
"Remember what top national security experts were saying around the time the President announced his decision. Quote: 'The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.'
"Administration officials shrugged it off. They downplayed the chances that Afghanistan's pro-American government would fall to the pro-terrorist Taliban. But now that outcome appears all but inevitable.
"The Administration glossed over the risk of an al-Qaeda resurgence. But now, Secretary Austin is acknowledging al Qaeda could re-establish a safe haven and threaten the homeland in less than two years. And even that may be optimistic.
"They insisted that "over the horizon" operations would be enough to keep terrorists in check. But now, just as the CIA director warned from the start, intelligence-gathering is already suffering.
"The Administration claimed that resources tied up in the fight against terrorists were more urgently needed to counter Chinese aggression.
"But now, the manpower demands of this "over the horizon" approach have required redeployment of forces to the Middle East and pulled an entire carrier group away from China's backyard so it can conduct costlier, less-efficient, longer-range missions over Afghanistan from the Gulf.
"Much of the rhetoric from the President's team has sounded almost laughably naïve. The Secretary of State has publicly suggested he thinks he can bribe the Taliban into being a responsible, peaceful regime with diplomatic carrots. That's where we are.
"In six months this Administration has taken us from helping local partners fight the Taliban... to abandoning our partners and pretending that a future Taliban government will care about foreign assistance and being accepted by the so-called international community.
"The Taliban have already begun paving their way to Kabul with innocent blood. Al-Qaeda is already rebuilding capabilities to strike at our homeland.
"What on earth are we doing?
"Surely the Administration would not consider the fall of Kabul a success. Surely it will not look at the fate awaiting Afghan women and girls and say "mission accomplished."
"Surely a terrorist resurgence or the assassination of our Afghan partners cannot look to President Biden's team like a – quote – 'deliberate' or 'responsible' exit from Afghanistan, to quote this Administration.
"But these are the predictable results of their decisions.
"The consequences of making enormous changes with no real plan to mitigate the risks. The failure to learn from similar mistakes, like the disastrous withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.
"Here in the Senate, it is curious to see that some of our colleagues who are the most exercised about trying to undo Authorizations for the Use of Military Force are somehow also among the quietest when it comes to the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan and oversight of ongoing conflicts.
"Make no mistake: whether America is on the ground or over the horizon, the war in Afghanistan will continue. And Americans will not be safer with the Taliban ruling from Kabul.
"We will not be safer when al-Qaeda regains a safe haven and inspires a new generation of global jihadists. And we won't be safer when coalition partners doubt they can trust our word.
"A strategic disaster from top to bottom. And a growing risk that this war will end in a victory for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and a greater threat to the United States."