WASHINGTON – Sen. Marco Rubio confronted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he testified Tuesday before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Rubio said he had been tracking the situation “very closely” and he believes the Biden administration should have planned for the rapid collapse of the Afghan military since the Afghan government was still fractious and corrupt.
“China, Russia, Iran look at this botched withdrawal and they see incompetence that they could exploit, which may lead to miscalculation,” Rubio said.
The swift Taliban takeover of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s administration prompted questions about former President Donald Trump’s February 2020 conditional deal with the Taliban and Biden’s planning. Sen. Bob Menendez chaired the meeting.
Trump’s deal required that the Taliban renounce al-Qaida and the Islamic State. President Joe Biden, who also wanted the withdrawal of U.S. troops, announced his withdrawal decision in April. Biden delayed Trump’s May deadline to September.
“The choice I had to make, as your president, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban,” Biden said on Aug. 16, adding he did not want to commit more troops to Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, Rubio told Blinken that he was not debating the withdrawal; he was arguing there were failures of policy and planning.
Torres contributed to this report from Miami.