“I think it’s important to remember why we went there,” he told reporters in Kentucky. “I think there’s a higher likelihood that the Taliban will be back in control of the country, maybe as early as the end of the year.”
The Biden administration began the official removal of troops from Afghanistan last week, postponing the original exodus date of May 1 – agreed to under the Trump administration – to Sept. 11, 2021.
McConnell argued that the war in Afghanistan should not be designated an “endless war” as the U.S. has been engaging in counter-terrorism security measures there, rather than combat-based strategies in recent years.
“We’ve had about twenty-five hundred to three thousand troops there for counterterrorism and for ongoing training of Afghan National Army,” he told reporters. “I believe I’m accurate in saying we didn’t lose a single American military personnel in combat in a year, so it’s not like we’re engaged in continuous combat activity.”
While most members of Congress have backed the push to remove troops from Afghanistan, some across both sides of the aisle have deemed the move a mistake.
Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney condemned the decision under both the Biden and Trump administrations. She has been joined by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who expressed concern that the decision could have serious security repercussions.
“I worry about the future of Afghan women and girls. And we will end up in a situation much like we’ve found ourselves in before,” McConnell said before referencing Clinton and Condoleezza Rice’s hesitations regarding the withdrawal.
“We’re not there to do them a favor. It’s just in our best interest,” he continued. “And I think the president has made a mistake.”
The Taliban threatened renewed attacks on U.S. and NATO forces last week after they failed to leave the country by May 1.
The U.S. has been working to complete a peace deal between the Taliban and Afghan forces before the removal of all troops is complete. But top security officials remain skeptical of a successful deal, dubbing the move “moonshot” because of its seemingly lofty goal.