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McConnell Blames Biden For Afghanistan Chaos, Defends Occupation

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Ryland Barton
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Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan an “unmitigated disaster.”

During a press conference in Louisville on Monday, McConnell blamed Democratic President Joe Biden for recent chaos as the Taliban assumes control of the country and U.S. officials attempt to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies.

McConnell defended the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan, saying it was “essential” to keep the country from becoming a haven for terrorists.

“Not because there was any realistic hope some Western-style Democratic government was going to emerge in Afghanistan, but because we went there because it was in our own national interest,” McConnell said.

McConnell said he received briefings about the situation in Afghanistan before the withdrawal and claimed Biden “overruled” military leaders on the issue.

“I made the same argument to President Trump. Simply the fact President Trump announced he would leave in May doesn’t mean President Biden had to do that,” McConnell said.

Politicians have begun pointing fingers over who should be blamed for the ongoing turmoil in the country.

Biden blamed former President Donald Trump for negotiating a deal with Taliban leaders to withdraw U.S. forces by May 1 of this year. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday the Biden administration “failed in its execution of its own plan.”

When asked how long the U.S. should have remained in Afghanistan, McConnell said he wasn’t sure, but pointed to countries where the U.S. has maintained a military presence for over half a century—Germany, Japan and South Korea.

“What I can tell you is [Afghanistan] was not a haven for Al-Qaeda, not a single military personnel got killed in the last year. It was a relatively benign way to keep the lid on to avoid exactly what we’re seeing,” McConnell said.

McConnell called on Biden to send troops back to Afghanistan to assist the evacuation.

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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