East Tennessee lawmakers react to fall of Kabul in Afghanistan after US troops withdrawal

Afghanistan

A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

(WATE) — After the Taliban took Afghanistan‘s capital, Kabul, on Sunday following the government’s collapse, lawmakers out of East Tennessee are sharing their thoughts on the role of the United States.

Back in April, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that were coordinated from that country.

Then, in July, Biden said the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan would end on Aug. 31, delivering an impassioned argument for exiting the nearly 20-year war without sacrificing more American lives even as he bluntly acknowledged there will be no “mission accomplished” moment to celebrate.

Over the weekend in Kabul, lives were lost and panic erupted as America’s 20-year war comes to an end. The U.S. also sent fresh troops into Kabul to evacuate U.S. officials.

What Tennessee lawmakers are saying

Rep. Tim Burchett

“We should have been out of there 10 years ago

Congressman Tim Burchett said on Monday that like a lot of people, he was disappointed in the situation. He also said he was disappointed in the current president.

“We should have been out of there 10 years ago, I mean this thing is almost generational,” Burchett said. “We were after Bin Laden, we got him, we should’ve declared victory. Of course, he was in Pakistan, we’re dealing with Pakistanis they are probably helping fund the Taliban, and we send them millions of dollars and we need to cut them off immediately.”

Burchett clarified that he had supported the U.S. troops’ withdrawal, adding that “we needed to get out.”

“We’re sending more Marines back in, over 3,000 Marines and some other service branches are involved too, I think, it’s up to over 4,000 people back in,” Burchett said. “And it’s just a complete capitulation, it’s very disappointing, the way this is going down…. but we are getting out of there.”

“We’ve been there 20 years – 20 years,” Burchett said. “And their military is basically just throwing down their arms. The Taliban now is getting millions and millions of dollars worth of American armaments and these aren’t a bunch of Saturday night specials*, these are – they’ve got some very good armament and tanks and things like that, so, here we are again – we’ve armed our enemy once more and now it’s going to be a launchpad for other terrorist organizations. But hopefully, with our drone technology, we can stop some of it.”

Burchett went on to criticize Biden, saying the president had gone “completely underground” and was being criticized by his own party members. Burchett also said he was praying for our country.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn

Senator Marsha Blackburn calls the current situation in Afghanistan, chaotic. She says, “This is outrageous how this has happened. It did not have to be this way.”

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann

On Monday, the office of Representative Chuck Fleischmann issued the following statement:

“The tragic and horrific situation in Afghanistan has been caused by President Biden’s reckless, hasty retreat of U.S. forces. Americans support concluding endless wars, but the American People cannot support the irresponsible way President Biden has abandoned Afghanistan to the brutal rule of the Taliban.

“President Biden and his Administration bear full responsibility for the nightmare we are witnessing in Afghanistan. America and our allies are less safe because of this President’s decisions as Commander in Chief.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

*Saturday night special: A colloquial term in the U.S. and Canada for inexpensive, compact, small-caliber handguns or pistols made of poor quality or low-grade metal.

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