- McConnell called Biden’s Afghanistan exit “one of the worst foreign policy decisions” in US history.
- The Kentucky Republican maintained that keeping a small troop presence in the country was working.
- Biden has so far rejected calls to extend the August 31 troop withdrawal deadline.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday blasted President Joe Biden for his plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, calling it “one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history.”
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” the Kentucky Republican told host Chris Wallace that the decision to leave the country after a nearly 20-year time span was worse than the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, when the city of Saigon fell to communist forces of the People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong.
“We’re looking at the exit, and over the next two days, our heroic military is doing the best they can with a horrible policy decision. This is one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history, much worse than Saigon,” he said.
McConnell said the Afghanistan withdrawal is much more perilous than the exit from Vietnam because the threat of terrorism will remain in the country once the US leaves.
“After we left Saigon, there weren’t Vietnamese terrorists who were planning on attacking us here at home,” he said. “We leave behind exactly what we went in to solve 20 years ago, and I fear for the future and continuing the war on terror.”
He added: “You know, just because we decided to quit fighting doesn’t mean the terrorists go away. So they’re still out there. They’re invigorated. They’re emboldened and excited about the success they see in bringing America to its knees in Afghanistan.”
McConnell has said that the US keeping a small presence in Afghanistan had been successful, and firmly opposed Biden announcing his plans to withdraw from the country in April (which was based on a Trump administration plan).
“We went there to prevent the Taliban from having a regime that would allow terrorists to reconstitute themselves and hit us again here at home,” he said. “It’s been a total success.”
He added: “With the continued deployment of 2,500 people, we were in effect keeping a lid on, keeping terrorists from reconstituting and having a light footprint in the country. The policy was working.”
McConnell’s comments come as the US is entering the final stages of the August 31 withdrawal and just days after a terrorist attack in Kabul that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members, marking the deadliest day for US military members in the country since 2011.
Earlier this month, McConnell was unforgiving in his criticism of the administration after the capital city of Kabul fell to the Taliban.
“The Biden Administration’s botched exit from Afghanistan including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership,” he said in a statement at the time. “The strategic, humanitarian, and moral consequences of this self-inflicted wound will hurt our country and distract from other challenges for years to come.”