Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana urged President Biden to assert U.S. strength on issues related to China to show allies and competitors alike that the Afghanistan retreat does not mean America is in decline.
Mr. Daines made the argument in a letter Monday to Mr. Biden and the White House national security staff. A copy of the letter was exclusively obtained by The Washington Times.
“The strongest world power for nearly a century is seen as weak and reluctant, embattled with internal strife,” Mr. Daines wrote. “As we pivot from Afghanistan, the U.S. must not validate those perceptions with partisan infighting, and we must instead act decisively to regain our footing abroad.”
In particular, Mr. Daines highlighted the need to check the ambitions of adversaries like China.
He argued that a good start would be in mobilizing emergency aid to allies like the Philippines and Taiwan. The latter is currently being ravaged by “devastating winds and torrential rainfall” associated with a super-typhoon.
“Scenes of catastrophic flooding, landslides, and human suffering are likely hours away, ripe for Chinese propaganda to chip away at the confidence of [Taiwan’s] 23 million citizens,” Mr. Daines wrote. “U.S. ships should be first on the scene to provide assistance as necessary to those in need.”
Mr. Daines also added that the U.S. fleet should move to protect “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea.
In recent days, China has demanded both the Philippines and Vietnam to abide by its new maritime law, requiring all vessels within the Sea to report to Beijing.
The letter comes as a contingent of Republicans and conservative media figures call for Mr. Biden‘s resignation and impeachment over the imbroglio in Afghanistan.
Last month, Afghanistan’s democratically elected government fell to the Taliban, an Islamist political and military group that harbored al-Qaeda as it plotted the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Taliban’s conquering of Afghanistan came shortly after Mr. Biden withdrew U.S. troops.
Mr. Biden‘s decisions leading up to the withdrawal and afterward have sparked widespread controversy.
Most notably, the White House has come under fire for abandoning more than $83 billion in military equipment provided to the ousted Afghan government. The sight of Taliban forces invading provinces with U.S.-made humvees and helicopters has frustrated voters and national security officials alike.
Former President Donald Trump and others have even suggested that global competitors, including China and Russia, are already pouncing to benefit from the situation.
“I guarantee that China and Russia already have our Apache helicopters and they’re taking them apart to find out exactly how they’re made,” said Mr. Trump during an interview over the weekend on “Full Measure” with Sharyl Attkisson.
“They’re the best in the world by far. And they’re taking them apart so they can make the exact same equipment. They’re very good at that. It’s a disgrace,” he maintained.
The victorious Taliban did acquire a significant fleet of U.S.-made helicopters, largely Black Hawks, as the Afghan military disintegrated in recent months. But Apaches were never sold to the Afghan government nor are any American or other NATO Apaches known to have fallen into Taliban hands.
The Biden White House has also come under fire for handing control of prime military installations, including air bases and prisons housing thousands of enemy combatants, to the Afghans.
Compounding problems is the administration’s tumultuous effort to evacuate U.S. troops and allies in the wake of the Taliban’s siege.
In particular, 13 U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport last week while overseeing the evacuation process.
Republicans say Mr. Biden botched the withdrawal of U.S. troops and then failed to respond properly to the humanitarian and military crisis that impacted American citizens and Afghan allies as the Taliban gobbled up the country.
“Hasty planning and empty promises left hundreds of U.S. citizens stranded and thousands of vulnerable Afghans abandoned,” wrote Mr. Daines. “Our closest allies feel vulnerable, and some are re-evaluating their ties with the U.S.”