WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism, on Wednesday joined MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony at Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Murphy pushed back against Republican efforts to erase their two decades of cheerleading the war in Afghanistan and highlighted the Biden administration’s continued efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghan partners.
On Republicans’ “magical thinking” that 2,500 U.S. troops could have prevented chaos after the Afghan government’s collapse, Murphy said: “These are legislators that cheer-led this war for 20 years, that forced us to stay there arguably ten years too long after we knew that the Taliban was likely going to overrun the government and the military that we had been there training. And so their effort here is to try to obscure what was bad decision-making by cheerleaders of the war for 20 years… But the idea that the United States has the power, with only a couple thousand troops and diplomats inside Afghanistan, to prevent pandemonium and chaos on the streets after the overnight collapse of the Afghan military and government is magical thinking.”
Murphy continued: “Getting 130,000 people out is impressive, but there was no way to stop a mad rush to the airport. There was no way for the United States to be able to control the streets of Kabul to get everybody easily and safely to the airport... And I don't know that we've ever had an airlift of human beings that brought this many people in this short amount of time out of a war zone into safety.”
On the Biden administration’s extraordinary efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghans despite the Trump administration’s gutting of the special immigrant visa (SIV) program, Murphy said: “President Trump effectively shut down what we call the SIV program…Trump stopped interviews of those individuals, dramatically slowed the flow of Afghan partners out of the country. And so Joe Biden had to effectively restart it from scratch… [W]e are all heartbroken by the fact that we weren't able to get out every single Afghan partner that worked with us. But we did save 100,000 lives. We are going to continue to try to work to get more out of the country.”
On the need for a real accounting of a decade of conflicting assessments from intelligence analysts and Department of Defense personnel on the situation in Afghanistan, Murphy said: “To me, that's what's heartbreaking. The fact that we stayed there for ten extra years, that we lost hundreds of additional American lives, that we spent an additional trillion dollars of our taxpayer money once it should have been clear to policymakers that the task we were given there was unachievable. And that's the accounting that I think Congress should be doing right now–not just about what happened in the last 40 days, but what happened over the last ten years that caused us to stay in a mission that was likely unachievable.”
On Tuesday, Murphy questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, focusing on what was within and outside of the United States’ control. Murphy penned an op-ed for Crooked Media making the case for why critics of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan are dangerously wrong. Murphy has long been supportive of President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Click here to view Murphy’s interview.