Dem Rep. Smith: ‘It’s a Problem that Former Afghan Fighters Are Fighting for Russia’ But Biden Was Right to Have ‘Courage’ to Withdraw

On Tuesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Katy Tur Reports,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) stated that while “it’s a problem that former Afghan fighters are fighting for Russia” in Ukraine, “President Biden finally had the courage to understand” we couldn’t work with Afghanistan and we had to pull out.

Host Katy Tur asked, “I want to ask you about an op-ed that was written by an American special forces soldier who fought in Afghanistan, he wrote this op-ed in The New York Times, and he says the Afghans that he trained to fight are now fighting for Putin in Ukraine. ‘We should have seen it coming,’ he says. ‘We abandoned our closest partners wholesale: What choice were the commandos left with? … If they fight for Russia, their families might live under better conditions, they might earn [the] $1,500 recruitment [incentive,] and they might earn Russian citizenship.’ Do you have a response to this op-ed?”

Smith responded, “Absolutely. Look, there’s no question that it’s a problem that former Afghan fighters are fighting for Russia. But the idea that if the U.S. continued to spend billions of dollars and lose countless American lives, injured, wounded, and killed in Afghanistan, that that would be the right strategy, I guess I would ask anyone, would we like to have American troops in Afghanistan right now fighting and dying and would it change anything? We spent 20 years, I forget how many trillion dollars, over 4,000 lives lost, and we did not get to where we wanted to be in Afghanistan. We did not have a partner in the Afghan government to work with. If we had stayed there, we would be in even worse shape and we would have more American lives lost and we would still have chaos in Afghanistan. And I hope people understand that. Look, the ideal scenario is we would have stayed in Afghanistan, it would have been a peaceful place that we could work with. But after 20 years, President Biden finally had the courage to understand that wasn’t going to happen and it was time to pull out, not an easy situation to be sure. But again, would we really rather be back in Afghanistan right now fighting and dying without being able to accomplish our objectives? I think the answer to that is clearly no.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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