NEWARK, N.J. – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today spoke at length after President Trump called off a summit at Camp David that he had secretly scheduled to include representatives of the Taliban. In response to a reporter’s question during an unrelated press conference in Newark, Menendez outlined the U.S. national security impacts of the President’s high-wire approach to diplomacy and his administration’s failed foreign policy agenda.
Below are the Senator’s full comments:
“I want to bring our sons and daughter back home as well. It’s the longest serving war we’ve had. But I want to bring them back in a way that honors the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in Afghanistan, and recognizes the national treasure that the United States has spent—in both lives and resources—that secures the United States in terms of its safety.
“The President is committed to high wire diplomacy without a safety net. He’s interested more about the sizzle than the result. And so we have seen this take place time and time again. We’ve seen it with Kim Jong Un in North Korea, which has produced nothing in terms of results but has legitimized Kim Jong Un.
“The Taliban, who were those gave refuge to Osama Bin Laden and the perpetrators of September 11th, should never be invited to Camp David, number one. There should not be a negotiation that provides for results for them, without a peace that comes before.
“You cannot have success in Afghanistan if you’re only talking to the Taliban and you’re not talking to the government of Afghanistan. You’ve left the elected government of Afghanistan out of the conversation while you’re talking to the Taliban.
“Now I’m not against trying to find a pathway to peace—that’s pretty obvious. But you’re not going to have peace of those who commit the acts of terror and constantly are creating bombings like the one that recently claimed the life of a U.S. service member, and you’re not even talking to the elected, legitimate government that will have to deal with them afterwards.
“Now the situation is worse than what it was before. The Taliban will now act in a way that is even more [full of] reprisals, more consequential. And I think this is another example of an incredibly failed foreign policy under this administration. I say that as the senior Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I wish I was applauding the administration on these critical issues, not criticizing them, but I just see that this administration is creating greater risks for us. It hasn’t made the world safer, it hasn’t made the world more secure.
“It has constantly engaged in the type of diplomacy where he thinks he is in a reality show, trying to make the art of the deal, when, in fact, the art of peace and security is far more difficult than the art of the deal.”