ICYMI: Risch with Bret Baier on Afghanistan
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Bret Baier on Fox News to discuss today’s committee hearing on the administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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When asked for a reaction on today’s hearing with Secretary Blinken, Risch responded:
“[The administration is] out of step with the American people – the vast majority of the American people watched this unfold. What you just saw was a statement from the Democrat chairman of our committee calling this a colossal failure. It clearly was. It was a debacle. It was an embarrassment. It was all of those things and we wanted answers as to who was making the decisions, who was making the calls on it. We didn’t get very much in that regard.”
“Look, I was privy to the discussions about this in the last administration, certainly not in this administration, and there are some basics they didn’t follow. You evacuate the country first, and then you give up the country. You don’t give up the country and then try to evacuate it.”
When asked whether the administration was right that the situation in Afghanistan was inevitable, Risch responded:
“One of the things that is always overlooked is the fact that how you message and how you communicate with the enemy is really important. In the last administration, when a plan was put on the table, there was very clear communication to the Taliban. If they didn’t meet those commitments to reduce violence, etcetera, there were going to be dire consequences. [The Taliban] believed that.”
“In this particular instance, this administration went out of its way time and again to telegraph to [the Taliban] that they weren’t going to push back. Starting with the withdrawal of air cover, then abandoning Bagram Air Base. By the time this happened, the Taliban was convinced they could run right over the country, which they did.”
When asked what the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s estimates are for the number of Americans left in Afghanistan, Risch responded:
“We have no way of knowing. All we can do is take their numbers, and we believe that the numbers are substantially higher than the numbers they’ve given us.”
“I think as the Taliban take over, they’re not changing their spots. They’re going to be the Taliban and we’re going to see some atrocities that are going to make everyone’s hair on the back of their necks stand up.”
When asked whether the United States should recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, Risch responded:
“Under the present conditions, I’d say we shouldn’t. We don’t recognize coups, and this was a coup. There was a democratically-elected government in place that a lot of men and women in the United States gave blood for and that we all paid treasure for. They were all in place and have been toppled by a terrorist group. To call them a government, I think, is obscene. I think it’s a slap in the face of every person that served in Afghanistan.”
Remarks have been lightly edited for clarity.
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