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Statement of Congressman Rob Wittman on President Biden’s Withdrawal Deadline

Deals With the Devil Are Never for the Better

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s planned adherence to the Taliban’s August 31st deadline for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan: 

“Last week, Secretary of Defense Austin said the United States would rescue every citizen we can until ‘the clock runs out.’ What President Biden made clear yesterday is that this clock is both real and quickly running out of time. 

“As things stand, many United States citizens remain in Afghanistan. Should President Biden fail to evacuate every American before this deadline, which is only a week away, he will be faced with a choice. He will be forced to choose between protecting American citizens in Afghanistan or honoring his deal with the Taliban. 

“Deals with the devil are never for the better. When President Biden made this Faustian Bargain with the Taliban, he immediately weakened the United States in the eyes of the world. Unlike the previous Administration, President Biden negotiated from a position of weakness, rather than a position of strength. 

By allowing the Taliban to dictate terms, the United States looks the weakest it has looked in my lifetime; not only in the eyes of our rivals such as China and Russia but to terrorist groups who now see how weakly the Biden Administration will respond. In turn, these terrorist groups are now likely emboldened to carry out future acts of violence.  

“Though President Biden claims Afghanistan will not become a haven for terrorism, we now lack the capabilities to enforce this claim. Upon leaving Afghanistan, we lost the ability to conduct ground operations in a particularly volatile region. And we have lost access to both human and signals intelligence. By willfully blinding ourselves in the region, President Biden has created an opportunity for terrorists to use Afghanistan as a staging point to launch attacks on the United States.

“This is exactly what we set out to prevent nearly 20 years ago. Thanks to President Biden’s botched withdrawal, nearly two decades of progress have been lost. This outcome was not inevitable. Had President Biden listened to his military and intelligence advisors, who recommended a small presence remain, he could have avoided this debacle. 

“This was never a question of capability, but a question of will. As the British routinely run patrols into Afghanistan to rescue US citizens while President Biden sits firmly on his hands, his lack of will is readily apparent. To succeed now, President Biden must understand that the Taliban only respect force. He must promise the world that we will not leave Afghanistan until we have evacuated every American citizen. It must be made clear that should the Taliban obstruct or challenge this effort our military reprisal will be swift and severe.

“What continues to transpire in Afghanistan weighs heavily on the hearts of the nation. President Biden’s catastrophic failure in Afghanistan has embarrassed the United States and ashamed the American people. His failed leadership in Afghanistan, as well as the multitude of crises here at home, raises serious concerns about his ability to serve as Commander and Chief.”