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Republican Of House Foreign Affairs Committee On Taliban Takeover

DON GONYEA, HOST:

Congressman Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has expressed serious concerns over the Biden administration's decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan in 2020. Representative Chabot also criticized then-President Trump's plans to reduce the military presence in Afghanistan by half, warning that this might mean losing Afghanistan. Congressman, thank you for joining us.

GONYEA: It's good to be with you today.

STEVE CHABOT: Do you believe U.S. troops should have remained in Afghanistan even if it was in a limited capacity?

CHABOT: Absolutely. What we're seeing here is a repeat of something that we saw a while back under President Obama. He was warned not to pull all troops out of Iraq. He did that. The result was ISIS and innocent people being murdered, thousands and thousands in U.S. troops having to be sent back in. Unfortunately, we're seeing a very similar virtually the exact same thing here in Afghanistan. This president, President Biden, was warned. He decided to ignore those warnings. And it was, you know, his way or the highway. And it's a complete debacle, probably a debacle of historic proportions we're seeing.

GONYEA: How do you weigh the cost benefits of such a decision, though? What would we really gain by keeping troops in the country, in your view?

CHABOT: Well, you would first of all, the result would be - you wouldn't have thousands and thousands of innocent people who are likely to lose their lives. And many of those people were ones that worked with us for the betterment of the people of Afghanistan and the region. Unfortunately, many of those people are at risk right now, and that was completely unnecessary. You're going to see half the population, which is women and girls, essentially, their lives are going to be reduced, condemned to slavery. That's what's going to happen. We know that. And that should never have happened.

We have three casualties over the last year, and every casualty certainly is one too many. But we've had troops in Germany and Japan and Korea for decades now. You don't necessarily have to be fighting and losing people. But when you consider the sacrifice, the blood that was shed there to get the region and Afghanistan to this point, to basically throw all that overboard, which is what this administration has done now, it just makes no sense.

GONYEA: Do you worry, though, that even if staying there would have perhaps stopped some of the awful things we're seeing right now, do you worry that it would have to become what amounts to a permanent occupation of U.S. troops in Afghanistan?

CHABOT: No, I don't think it would have had to be permanent. But one of the real problems here is it was done so haphazardly, the pullout with no plan. It's the most incompetent thing that I've seen since, well, Vietnam. And we heard President Biden say, well, we're not going to see helicopters rescuing people at the roof of the American Embassy there. Well, that's exactly what we're seeing. So virtually everything the president has said in the past couple of weeks or months has turned out to be just not true. And it's very unfortunate because I think most of us want the president's policies to be successful. It's good for America. But unfortunately, this decision has just been a travesty.

GONYEA: What would you say to those who argue that America should stop trying to be the world's policeman? And that's a sentiment we hear from both parties, I think we have to say.

CHABOT: Sure, we do. And I don't think any of us necessarily want the United States to be the world's policeman. But we do have a role to play in the world today. And we're either going to be a leader or we're not. And we also shouldn't forget that we were attacked on September 11th, and it was the Taliban that was harboring al-Qaida that attacked us and killed almost 3,000 Americans on that day. And, yes, Osama bin Laden is dead, but the Taliban is now going to be back in control there - in days or hours in control of the country. They did not cut off their connections or relationships with al-Qaida, so we know they're going to be back in there, too. So we once again have a situation where the Taliban will be harboring terrorists who can attack us here on the homeland. And that's something that could have been avoided, should have been avoided. This did not have to happen - unfortunately, it has.

GONYEA: So the Taliban harboring terrorists, you see that as a threat that is very real. And it sounds like you're saying it's probably even likely.

CHABOT: I certainly hope it isn't. And I hope I'm wrong. I hoped that the administration was right to the extent that the country wouldn't almost immediately fall. But I thought it would. And so I'm not terribly surprised, although I'm extremely disappointed to see the the debacle that's occurring as we speak right now. I mean, it's just - can you imagine if you were a woman and you - or a father and you've got girls in Afghanistan? I've been to the schools where the kids were being educated. And now, all those kids are at risk. I mean, it's just a horrific thing that's happening. And it could have been avoided. And that's a president's responsibility. This one has utterly failed.

GONYEA: Congressman Steve Chabot is a Republican from Ohio and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

CHABOT: Thank you, Don. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.