Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah on Sunday made the case that the chaotic exit from Afghanistan leaves the U.S. in greater danger over the long term — a crisis he pinned on moves by both the Biden and Trump administrations.
As a few thousand troops remain to help evacuate U.S. forces, American civilians, at-risk Afghan interpreters and other allies after the rapid takeover of the government by the Taliban, Romney told CNN that the U.S. withdrawal didn’t have to play out this way. He suggested the U.S. should not allow Americans and allies to be left behind, even as the Biden administration tries to meet an Aug. 31 deadline amid ongoing terror threats.
On Thursday, a suicide bomber killed at least 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. servicemen and women at a gate outside Kabul’s international airport, where thousands have gathered in recent days trying to escape Taliban rule.
“Leaving Americans behind and leaving our Afghan friends behind who worked with us will put on us a moral stain,” Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said. “And this is the result of very ineffective decisions, terrible decisions, by the previous administration and the current administration. This didn’t have to happen. It was preventable.”
Romney, a Republican, bashed Biden’s decision to close the Bagram Air Base and the Trump administration’s direct negotiations with the Taliban — including Trump’s talk of inviting the repressive group to Camp David. He also cited the Trump administration’s opening of a prison of 5,000 Taliban and potentially members of ISIS-K, the group behind Thursday’s terror attack.
Romney credited the U.S. military for its efforts, but argued, “We didn’t have to be in this rush-rush circumstance with terrorists breathing down our neck. But it’s really the responsibility of the prior administration and this administration that has caused this crisis to be upon us.”
Leaving Afghanistan right now is a mistake, he added.
“The idea that we could pull out of a dangerous place where radical violent jihadists are organizing — that we could pull out of that and that is going to stop them — that’s fantasy,” he said. “They’ll continue in their effort to regroup and come after America.”
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a Democrat who visited Afghanistan in secret along with another veteran, Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan, told CNN the evacuation is not organized, with “haphazard requests coming in from members of Congress and members of the administration.”
On top of providing security at the airport gates, service members, Moulton said, are “behind the wire in the airport to simply identify which ones we need to get, to sift through thousands and thousands of requests, and figure out which ones we need to bring over the wire. So the system is not working very well.”
©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit masslive.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.