- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 11, 2021

Departing American troops may soon have to return to Afghanistan as the security situation deteriorates and the Taliban step up their offensive against the U.S.-backed Kabul government, a key lawmaker said Sunday.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who flew missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he agreed with media characterizations that the U.S. and allied pullout from the country after a 20-year deployment as a “crushing defeat” at the hands of the Taliban insurgency.

Noting that the U.S. military is still stationed in former hot spots such as Kosovo, Mr. Kinzinger criticized the drive by former President Donald Trump and President Biden to pull out the roughly 3,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying there was no sign the Taliban were breaking ties with al Qaeda or fulfilling other promises made in the February 2020 deal that set the timetable for the American withdrawal.

“Unfortunately, it worked — the Taliban have outlasted the will of the United States,” said Mr. Kinzinger, Illinois Republican.

“It was not a hot war. Basically, it was a peacekeeping operation and we may have to go back now,” he said.

But Sen. Jack Reed, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, defended Mr. Biden’s withdrawal decision on the same program, saying the original mission to “degrade and disrupt” al Qaeda in Afghanistan was largely accomplished. He noted the Biden administration’s pledge to continue to support Kabul and the Afghan security forces even after the last American troops are gone.

“This is not a closure, it’s a transition,” said Mr. Reed, Rhode Island Democrat  .

Mr. Biden, Mr. Reed said, came to office facing a dilemma, inheriting a deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration setting a firm date for the U.S. pullout and encouraging the insurgents just to wait out the foreign troops still in the country

“I think the president made a difficult, but the best of many poor choices,” M


• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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