Chair of Senate foreign relations panel says Afghanistan withdrawal was ‘clearly and fatally flawed’

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered opening remarks Tuesday in a hearing on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling it “clearly and fatally flawed.” He said he expected to receive a “full explanation” from the witness, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, about the Biden administration’s decisions since coming into office in January. “There has to be accountability,” Menendez said.

Video transcript

BOB MENENDEZ: Let me turn to the focus of today's hearing. Mr Secretary, the execution of the US withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed. This committee expects to receive a full explanation of the administration's decisions on Afghanistan since coming into office last January. There has to be accountability.

We will have other hearings to develop a set of lessons learned over the course of the war to understand the many mistakes made over the course of 20 years, the diversion of attention and resources when the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq, despite its irrelevance to the 9/11 attacks, the double dealing by Pakistan in providing a safe haven to the Taliban, and the list goes on.

We need to understand why successive administration made so many of the same mistakes repeatedly. Perhaps most urgently, we need to understand why the Afghan government and military collapsed so precipitously. This rapid collapse laid bare a fundamental fact, that successive administrations lied to the Congress over the years about the durability of Afghan military and governing institutions, and we need to understand why.