WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today took to the Senate floor to discuss the Biden administration’s failed strategy in Afghanistan
“The President, I think, believes that the cost of this debacle has been only a few weeks of bad press. But I think he's sadly wrong. Perhaps the President is banking on the American people forgetting that the disaster took place on his watch,” Wicker said.
In his remarks, Wicker cited the Americans and Afghan allies who were left behind by the Biden Administration and the new doubts felt by key allies about America’s credibility.
“Perhaps the worst breach of trust in this dark chapter was between our government and our own people during the withdrawal,” Senator Wicker said. “The President dismissed those Americans staying by saying many of them wanted to stay in Afghanistan… This repeated pattern of broken promises and failure is ours to own.”
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Wicker during a recent Armed Services Committee hearing that the Afghanistan withdrawal has caused “damage” to American alliances.
“Simply put, when we abandon our friends, our partners around the world start to wonder if they can trust us, if we'll have their backs,” Wicker said. “This hurts our ability to cooperate with our allies, to deter threats and to provide security for the American people. And it emboldens our adversaries to act more aggressively.”
Wicker also highlighted a campaign undertaken by China to cast misgivings on America’s willingness to defend Taiwan in a crisis.
“[The Chinese] have been signaling to our friends in Taiwan that America is an unreliable partner. Even before our troops had fully left Kabul, Chinese media wasted no time predicting that we will also abandon friends in Taiwan if and when China invades that country.”
See the below for the full excerpt from Senator Wicker’s remarks:
It gives me no pleasure to stand on the Senate floor today and talk about President Biden's ill-advised and chaotic withdrawal, to talk about the consequences for the people of Afghanistan who trusted us and who took our side for 20 years and to talk about the tremendous harm it has done to America's reputation.
The President, I think, believes that the cost of this debacle has been only a few weeks of bad press. But I think he's sadly wrong. Perhaps the President is banking on the American people forgetting that the disaster took place on his watch.
But it turns out, Madam President, this is a disaster of historic proportions. We will be reeling from this debacle for years and decades to come. The President may try to change the subject, but the cold truth is that our nation will be paying the price when we are dead and gone and these pages are in a position of senior leadership in this country.
Last week, my colleagues and I on the Armed Services Committee heard directly from our nation's top military leaders who had been advising the president on Afghanistan.
Their testimonies made clear what we had known all along, that President Biden not only ignored their advice, which he has the power to do as commander in chief of the armed forces, but that he then misrepresented that advice to the American people in a national TV interview.
When asked whether the top military advisers had recommended leaving a small troop presence behind to keep a lid on the situation, which would have kept all hell from breaking loose, the President insisted that no one, to his knowledge, had made that recommendation.
Madam President, we know that statement by Joe Biden was not true. The President got good advice and then, incredibly, pled ignorance. He also got good advice from Democrats. And I would point out, my colleague from Rhode Island, Senator Whitehouse, when this was first broached in an open meeting and the administration was explaining what was going to take place. Senator Whitehouse said, ‘This sounds like it's going to be a lot like the fall of Saigon in April of 1974.’ Senator Whitehouse, as the son of a foreign service officer, had an all too close recollection of the disaster that occurred in Saigon back in the 70s. And he warned the administration officials that this might happen again.
And yet the President said no one, to his knowledge, made this recommendation or gave these warnings. This is a President who promised to shoot straight with the American people, who said in February, quote, “You can handle anything as long as you're told the truth.”
I wish the President actually believed that and subscribed to that and lived by that. The American people can handle the truth and they need to be told the truth. Here's one bit of hard truth from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley.
Our exit from Afghanistan was a, quote, “strategic failure,” unquote, from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It has caused, quote, “damage,” unquote, to America's credibility. That from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, I appreciate him leveling with the committee, leveling with the American people.
That damage was on full display this past weekend when the former Afghan ambassador, Adella Raz, was asked by Axios: Do you still trust the United States? Our answer was simple, bleak, and understandable. “No, sorry.” That was our answer. “No, sorry.” She does not trust the United States anymore. This loss of trust extends far beyond Afghanistan.
General Milley noted, and I quote again, “Our credibility with allies and partners around the world and with adversaries is being intensely reviewed by them.” And they said, yes, “damaged” is the correct word. Simply put: when we abandon our friends, our partners around the world start to wonder if they can trust us, if we'll have their backs.
This hurts our ability to cooperate with our allies, to deter threats and to provide security for the American people. And it emboldens our adversaries to act more aggressively. We've already seen this from China in the past week. China has been signaling to Taiwan by ramping up their air missions near Taiwan.
They've been signaling to our friends in Taiwan that America is an unreliable partner, even before our troops had fully left Kabul. Chinese media wasted no time predicting that we will also abandon friends in Taiwan if and when China invades that country. A matter of concern: Will this embolden Iran? Terrorist groups in Pakistan who support the Taliban and remain a serious concern?
But perhaps the worst breach of trust in this dark chapter was between our government and our own people during the withdrawal.
President Biden assured us on national television, and I quote the president's grammar. “If there's American citizens left in Afghanistan, we're going to stay, we're going to stay to get them all out. If there's American citizens left [in Afghanistan,] we're gonna stay to get them all out.”
Days later, that promise went out the window. The President dismissed those Americans staying by saying many of them wanted to stay in Afghanistan. Madam President, this repeated pattern of broken promises and failure is ours to own. These decisions will only further weaken our country, our alliances and our national security.
Sadly, we must get about the business of rehabilitating our reputation with our allies and the way our enemies and adversaries look at us. I stand with my colleagues today who are committed to holding this administration accountable.Thank you, Madam President.