Ron Johnson (R-WI) blasted Secretary of State Antony Blinken as delusional at a Senate panel hearing Tuesday for painting a rosy picture of the Biden administration’s fatally flawed withdrawal from Afghanistan in written testimony.
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Johnson indicated that Blinken’s prepared remarks, where the top U.S. diplomat defends the botched Afghanistan exit and describes the deadly evacuation efforts that left Americans stranded as “extraordinary,” were difficult to reconcile with reality.
Johnson, who serves as the top Republican on a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, told Blinken:
If I were just to read your testimony, not having watched any news, I would literally think this was a smashing success. But I do read the news, as most Americans do, and we realize this is a complete debacle. And I think what concerns me the most, among many things, is that detachment from reality.
It’s the same denial of reality, for example, on the border. A self-inflicted wound, a crisis created by President [Joe] Biden’s policies that have completely thrown open our borders, and yet, the administration denies that we have a problem at the border.
According to Blinken’s written and verbal testimony, anything wrong that took place during the withdrawal was not Biden’s fault.
He blamed everything on all other parties involved, from the Taliban and the Afghan government to former President Donald Trump and the stranded Americans. He said the trapped Americans ignored multiple warnings to evacuate.
Blinken left out that President Biden repeatedly reassured the public that the Taliban could not take over Afghanistan.
Tuesday’s hearing is the second this week to address how a 20-year war that came at a tremendous cost of blood and treasure to the U.S. — 2,298 service members killed, 20,561 injured, and $2 trillion spent — could end in America’s surrender to the Taliban.
Blinken provided similar testimony during a hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Monday.
Biden caved into the Taliban’s demand for the U.S. to pull its military out of Afghanistan by August 31, a decision that resulted in many American citizens, green-card holders, and Afghan allies left stranded, including some who are still trying to escape.
The evacuation effort also led to the killing of 13 U.S. troops, the wounding of 18 others, and countless Afghan casualties in an attack by the Islamic State (ISIS) at the airport in Kabul used for evacuations by the American military before they left.
The U.S intelligence community and over two dozen diplomats warned of the potential collapse of Afghanistan amid a Taliban blitz that culminated with the jihadi group entering Kabul and declaring victory on August 15. However, State officials reportedly dismissed the warnings as alarmist.
Blinken insists no one could have predicted Afghanistan’s collapse in 11 days. However, it took much longer for the country to fall. The Taliban launched an aggressive offensive to conquer Afghanistan in early May, days after the Biden announced a timeline for the complete withdrawal of U.S.-led NATO forces in April.