Pollak: Ten Questions Republicans Must Ask Antony Blinken
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 2 p.m. ET on Monday.
It will be the first opportunity for elected representatives to hold the Biden administration accountable for the disastrous pullout from Afghanistan, which left Americans stranded, abandoned Afghan allies, weakened NATO, gave $85 billion in U.S. weapons to the Taliban, and undermined U.S. credibility on the world stage. Here are two questions for Republicans to ask:
1. Why haven’t you resigned yet? It’s incredible that no one in the Biden administration has resigned, or been fired, for the awful failure of the Afghanistan withdrawal. Blinken is one of the main architects of that failure. Though the decision to withdraw was up to President Biden, it was Blinken who reassured the world that Afghanistan would not be another Saigon, who lost track of the Americans in the country, and who was generally incompetent throughout the ordeal.
2. Why were you on vacation during the Afghanistan pullout? Everyone is entitled to rest and relaxation, but Blinken chose to vacation in the Hamptons during one of the most crucial transitions in contemporary American history, and was among many senior members of the Biden administration absent from their posts when things started to go wrong. Could vacation not have waited until Labor Day weekend, or Thanksgiving? You had to be away before the August 31 deadline?
3. Why did you ignore the warnings of U.S. diplomats that Afghanistan would collapse? Some two dozen diplomats used the State Department’s “dissent channel” in July to warn that under Biden’s plan for withdrawal, the Afghan military would collapse, and the Taliban would immediately take over. Blinken saw the cable but ignored its recommendations — and Biden told the American people that a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely,” a claim Blinken repeated himself.
4. Why are you even considering recognizing the Taliban? Last month, Blinken said that the Biden administration would consider recognizing the legitimacy of the Taliban regime if it recognized the ” upholds the basic rights of its people” and “doesn’t harbor terrorists.” The U.S. also urged the Taliban to include rival parties, and women, in their government. But the Taliban have been executing their opponents, and their government has terrorists, but no women.
5. Why do you blame others for the Afghanistan collapse? The president and his advisers have repeatedly complained that the Afghan military — which had lost tens of thousands of soldiers to battles with the Taliban over the years — would not fight for its own country. Blinken also joined the blame game, saying that the Biden administration was saddled with Trump’s decision to leave (a policy Biden himself ran on in 2020). When does the Biden administration take the blame?
6. Did the State Department make it more difficult for Americans to leave? Earlier this month, there was a standoff in which several charter planes that included American citizens on board were prevented from leaving Afghanistan. Some said the Americans were being used as hostages; others said the State Department would not let the flights land abroad, and there were rumors that the State Department was threatening organizers with human trafficking charges. What happened?
7. What has the U.S. given the Taliban in exchange for releasing Americans? The charter flights mentioned above were ultimately allowed to leave. What did the U.S. give the Taliban in exchange? Was money given to the Taliban, as Obama flew pallets of cash to Iran to secure the release of several Americans? Or did the U.S. make some other concessions to the terrorist group, such as dropping charges against several of its senior ministers, some of whom are wanted terrorists?
8. How do you “lead with diplomacy” after you have retreated in disgrace? After the last U.S. military personnel left Kabul on August 31 local time, Blinken claimed that the new American mission would be to “lead with diplomacy,” an Orwellian phrase that attempted to reframe a humiliating defeat as a spectacular victory. Without the military in place, with American allies in shock, and with the Taliban likely welcoming terrorists back, how will U.S. diplomacy “lead” anything?
9. When is the “time to assess”? Blinken has deflected criticism in the past by saying that there will be plenty of time to look at what went wrong later, but that the immediate priority of evacuating Americans had to be dealt with first. Now that the U.S. has left Afghanistan (without rescuing all of the Americans who wanted to leave), is it time yet for people to take responsibility? Or will that be left up to historians at some point in the future, while Blinken and Co. keep their positions?
10. Was the State Department distracted by other, “social justice” priorities? The Biden administration had the Kabul embassy promote LGBTQI Pride (Blinken adds an “I” for “intersex) Month in June, when it should have been preparing for the Afghanistan pullout. Likewise, Blinken has given unusual attention to other policy areas, such as a speech on climate change in April in which he admitted some American workers would lose their jobs. Did they take their eye off the ball?
11. Was John McCain right about you? In 2014, the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) delivered a speech on the Senaet floor opposing Blinken’s nomination as a deputy secretary of state, saying that Blinken has actually been dangerous to America and to the young men and women who are fighting and serving it.” Given the events that have transpired, and which have included the death of 13 American servicemembers, and many Afghan civilians, was John McCain right?
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.