House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed Wednesday that the Biden administration’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan has led allies to lose their trust in the United States as a partner and risks countries turning to adversaries for help.
The California Republican took aim at Biden’s decision to stand by the Aug. 31 deadline to evacuate Americans and allies despite calls from leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to extend the deadline, adding it could have long term consequences for the country’s foreign relations.
McCarthy, during an event at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library on Wednesday, argued the US looked weak on the world stage and believes the administration’s actions sparked concern for countries like Taiwan and the Ukraine.
“We now have our own allies questioning us, the UK criticizing us. I’ve talked to a number of ambassadors who have told us they can’t trust us anymore. We’ve watched what China has said to Taiwan that America will not be there for you, we’ve watched with Putin in the Baltics, Eastern Europe,” McCarthy said. “They feel an opportunity to fill that void when they feel weakness, and they took advantage of it.”
He went on to raise concerns that China and Russia are seizing on the opportunity to further impair US relations abroad. McCarthy added that he believes Biden casting blame on the Afghan military sends the wrong message to allied countries and needs to make clear they will not tolerate attacks from adversaries moving forward.
“I watched our president during this crisis turn his back and not answer questions. I watched him say the buck stops with him but he blamed everybody else,” McCarthy said. “I watched that we have Americans sitting over there, regardless. People make mistakes, admit your mistake and fix it. That’s what we do.”
“Now we have our allies probably calling China more than they’re calling us,” he said. “If it took one of our closest allies, Boris Johnson, 36 hours to get returned a phone call in the middle of the Afghan crisis when he’s trying to get citizens out, I imagine China and Russia are saying they’ll be there for you.”
While Biden has come under fire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle over the chaotic exit, with GOP lawmakers accusing him of having “blood on his hands” after 13 US service members and dozens of Afghans were killed in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport in the final days of the evacuation, the president has stood by his decision, calling the withdrawal an “extraordinary success.”
McCarthy has repeatedly called for Biden to reverse his decision to abide by the Aug, 31 deadline and continue efforts to evacuate the Americans and allies that remain stranded in the country.
He called for the administration to provide a plan on how it plans to get the remaining Americans out in addition to answers on the number of weapons that have fallen into the hands of the Taliban.
“What is your plan if you knowingly left by leaving Americans, what is your plan to get all Americans out? That should be everybody’s special. Secondly, what is the accounting of the amount of weaponry, we have left the Taliban,” McCarthy said.
The White House has said that it does not have any immediate plans to recognize the Taliban as the official government, but the Pentagon has not rules out working with them to fight ISIS-K.
McCarthy has repeatedly called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring the House back into session to address the crisis, arguing the legislative branch needs to hold hearings and receive briefings on how the crisis was handled.