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Blinken: Trump Left No Good Options

'We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan' for Afghanistan, he tells panel
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2021 5:04 PM CDT
Blinken Answers for Afghanistan Exit
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, left, and Rep. Michael McCaul, participate in a hearing Monday that included testimony by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Repeatedly criticized by Republican lawmakers, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday defending the US handling of the end of the war in Afghanistan. Blinken, in turn, put blame on former President Trump's administration, Politico reports. "We inherited a deadline," Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "We did not inherit a plan." The Biden administration was limited by Trump's deal with the Taliban, which cut the US deployment to 2,500 by the time Trump left office, Blinken testified. When President Biden took over, he "immediately faced the choice between ending the war or escalating it," the secretary of state testified.

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Had Biden broken Trump's deal, Blinken said, the Taliban would have attacked US troops and Afghanistan's cities. That could have renewed the war for as long as 20 years, Blinken said, per CNN. Republicans on the committee were not placated by his answers. "I never thought in my lifetime that I would see an unconditional surrender to the Taliban," said GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, per the Washington Post. "The American people don't like to lose, especially to the terrorists." The chairman, Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks, answered Republican criticisms, saying the withdrawal was bound to be problematic. "For my friends who presume a clean solution for the withdrawal existed … I've yet to hear the clean withdrawal option because I don't believe one exists," he said.

As of last week, Blinken said, about 100 Americans are still in Afghanistan who want to get out. He said each has been assigned a US team, which is in contact with those people. Meeks also said he wants answers on how the State Department will evacuate them, along with the Afghans who worked with US forces. Among the successes of the mission that Blinken cited was the progress women in Afghanistan have made in the past 20 years, especially concerning education, health care and entrepreneurship, and in the workforce. "Those gains were significant. And we were the leading contributor," he said. Blinken said he plans to name a senior official to coordinate efforts to support women there. (Read more Afghanistan war stories.)

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