"A war that has gone on for almost 20 years is a disaster," HFAC chair Gregory Meeks states at the beginning of the hearing with Sec. Blinken.
Meeks is opening up this hearing by underscoring that the Trump administration made the deal with the Taliban to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, echoing one of the Biden administration's key points in defending its handling of the withdrawal.
Michael McCaul, ranking member on the committee, characterized what recently happened in Afghanistan as an "unconditional surrender" to the Taliban. Not quite accurate. Though he was correct to say Biden was warned the Taliban could rapidly take over if US troops pulled out.
Worth noting that the withdrawal began under Trump — and not just in terms of signing the deal with the Taliban. Trump began pulling troops out, bringing the number in Afghanistan down to around 2,500 by the beginning of the year.
A lot of GOP criticism of Biden over the withdrawal ignores an uncomfortable reality: the US had already lost the war years ago.
The point McCaul just made — the notion that US military presence in Afghanistan prevented a terror attack in the US on the scale of 9/11 — is highly debatable.
Blinken starts off by emphasizing that the Afghanistan withdrawal was set in motion by the Trump administration.
Blinken underscores that State between March and August urged Americans 19 times to leave Afghanistan (this is basically a defense against critics who say the admin. shuffled its feet on getting Americans out)
Blinken has basically just been reiterating the Biden administration's standard defense of its handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal. Nothing new here so far.
Blinken says Taliban legitimacy (in terms of recognition) depends on its "conduct"
Blinken finishes opening remarks. Now come questions. This could get heated.
Blinken says at the end of last week there were still about 100 Americans in Afghanistan who'd signaled they want to leave.
Blinken said the interim government in Afghanistan falls very short of the mark in terms of the standard set by the international community re: inclusivity etc.
When asked about over-the-horizon capabilities and the threat from Afghanistan, Blinken said the terrorist threat is greater in other places like Yemen, Iraq, Syria.
This Afghanistan hearing has not really provided any new info so far. It's basically been Democrats defending the withdrawal and Republicans blaming Biden for everything.
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger says the Trump admin. failed in the set up of the Afghanistan withdrawal, while the Biden admin. failed in the execution.

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More from @jchaltiwanger

26 Aug
There’s no doubt the US has evacuated a remarkable number of people from Kabul. But can’t shake the feeling Democrats would have a much tougher time touting the numbers if it had been American bodies falling from planes last week and American body parts found in the landing gear.
Of course US leaders have an inherent obligation to Americans and their safety, but there’s an undeniable double-standard in terms of how this country treats the lives of those beyond our borders.
Body Parts Found in Landing Gear of Flight From Kabul, Officials Say nytimes.com/2021/08/17/us/…
Read 4 tweets
23 Feb
One insurrectionist carried a Confederate flag. Another was wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt. They had metal bats. They beat police w/ their own batons + US flags. The vast majority were white. They stormed the Capitol for their supreme leader. Everything TC says here is a lie.
It’s honestly astonishing how far the “Blue Lives Matter” network is now going to defend a fatal insurrection in which a police officer was killed. There have been a lot of incredible moments of hypocrisy on Fox over the years but all of this really takes the cake.
Also, blue lives don’t exist. No one is born a cop. It’s a choice. You can take the uniform off at the end of the day. And folks like TC have obfuscated on this for years while condemning BLM as anti-American only to turn around and whitewash the actions of literal cop-killers
Read 4 tweets
8 Jan
It was hard to stomach seeing lawmakers from both parties continue to tout the US as a "shining city on a hill" after the Capitol siege. More like a burning city on a hill the world is appalled by. Would be refreshing to hear a politician say: "This *is* America, unfortunately."
Just can't stress enough how much no US citizen in their right mind wants to hear about "American exceptionalism" at the moment.
The US is a paradoxical place, where a pastor in Georgia can become the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from a former Confederate state one day, and white supremacists with Confederate flags storm the US Capitol the next.
Read 4 tweets

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