Rep. Calvert’s Statement on President Biden’s Revisionist History
Today, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s speech on Afghanistan:
“Once again, President Biden insists, wrongly, that somehow his hands were completely tied to either follow through on former President Trump’s withdrawal completely or stay in Afghanistan in perpetuity. Yet, President Biden made his own decisions to extend the deadline – first to September 11th before moving it up to August 31st – close Bagram Air Base, deploy more troops once the situation fell apart, and restrict all flow out of the country to Kabul airport.
President Biden also pursues a revisionist history, omitting that in April he said the evacuation would be safe and orderly; on July 8th he insisted there was no way the Taliban could take over quickly; and now insists that he saw this coming and that this chaotic, disgraceful withdrawal was inevitable. This administration has committed a grave injustice to the people of Afghanistan and to the thousands of US personnel who served there by continuing to legitimize the Taliban. This is not a transfer of power. It is a violent coup against a democratically elected government.
President Biden chose to hide behind General Frank McKenzie, the Commander of Central Command, in saying this is the way the mission was designed. I refuse to believe that a Marine that has served as long and as honorably as General McKenzie believes that. We did not have to turn over billions of dollars of equipment to the Taliban, we did not have to witness vulnerable Afghans falling from planes and being crushed to death in landing gears, we did not have to trust the security of Americans to the Taliban, we did not have to leave behind hundreds of American citizens, and we did not have to lose 13 servicemembers. It did not have to be this way.
I also reject the false equivalency between Yemen and Afghanistan. Once we deposed the Taliban from power, we had a follow-on responsibility to the population. Just as we honor our obligations in South Korea, Japan, Germany, Kosovo, Kuwait, and other locations around the world, we engaged in the training of an Afghan National Security Force that could eventually protect their own country. Since 2015 the mission in Afghanistan has been almost entirely counter-terrorism and support for the Afghan military. The US military stopped engaging in their civil war nearly seven years ago. We absolutely have a national strategic interest in Afghanistan which neighbors China, Iran, and Pakistan and was a safe-haven for the terrorists that carried out the 9/11 attacks.
Oddly enough, the president, while triumphantly claiming the war over, says we will hunt down ISIS-K and kill them. So the war continues? In reality, the war does not end because President Biden says so. With our own eyes we’ve seen the Taliban violence and ISIS-K growing in strength. The enemy always has a say, and President Biden’s incoherent, disastrous foreign policy has put us all in more danger.
Adding insult to injury, President Biden seems almost to believe it when he says that we will pursue human rights goals through diplomacy while the Taliban has already begun restricting the rights of women. There is no indication that the Taliban have any interest in international engagement, and he has done irreparable harm to our reputation on human rights around the world as he condemns Afghan women to rape, beatings, and death
Regarding American citizens left behind, President Biden and his Administration continues odd word play about helping ‘those who want to leave.’ We have reports of children, who have been trying to leave, not getting out. My office worked directly with over 300 individuals who wanted to leave and this Administration ignored those pleas. We have yet to get concrete numbers on the numbers of American citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, Special Immigrant Visas and others who we have left behind.
Finally, the way the president has handled the death of our 13 U.S. service members is appalling. Our Gold Star Families, still in shock and overwhelmed with grief, deserve every grace, not a president who walks away. True leadership is how you handle the difficult situations and it is clear that this president is unable, or unwilling, to take accountability for his decisions and the consequences.
The dishonor in Afghanistan is entirely on the hands of President Biden, and his arrogance and defiance in the face of such a disastrous evacuation is deeply troubling.”