New Jersey Sen. Menendez: Committee ‘will seek a full accounting’ of Afghan withdrawal

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, directs operations with U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Farrell J. Sullivan, the commander of the Naval Amphibious Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan on August 17, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Capt. William Urban)

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee “will seek a full accounting” of the country’s policy toward Afghanistan and its “flawed” withdrawal from the country after nearly two decades, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said.

It will also “assess why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces collapsed so quickly,” Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. “To see this army dissolve so quickly after billions of dollars in U.S. support is astounding.”

President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan nearly 20 years after the United States ousted the Taliban in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I am deeply saddened by the facts we now face,” the president said on Monday. “But I do not regret my decision to end America’s warfighting in Afghanistan and maintain a laser-focus on our counterterrorism missions there and in other parts of the world.

“… I stand squarely behind my decision,” the president added, returning from his vacation to address the country. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.”

While Menendez called former President Donald Trump’s earlier agreement with the Taliban “wholly inadequate,” he excoriated Biden’s handling of the withdrawal.

“There were clear policy execution and intelligence failures associated with our withdrawal and its aftermath,” Menendez said. “How the U.S. handles the evacuation over the next few days will have implications well beyond Afghanistan and will impact our ability to build coalitions and work with partners moving forward.”

The situation has drawn bipartisan criticism. U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., called on Biden to resign in a Fox News interview.

“President Biden’s decision to simply hand Afghanistan back to the Taliban after almost twenty years to the day since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, will go down as one of the most shocking and embarrassing failures of leadership in American history,” Van Drew said in a statement.

“It is a slap in the face to not only our NATO allies and the Afghan people who stood shoulder to shoulder with us in the fight for Freedom, but to the thousands of Americans and coalition forces who sacrificed their lives and limbs to defeat the Taliban and liberate Afghanistan in the first place,” Van Drew added. “Whether it is China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran – friend and foe alike are taking notice of the Biden Administration’s weakness and will only be emboldened in the days, weeks, and months to come.”

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