Stewart: Afghanistan withdrawal is right policy, wrong execution

Aug 17, 2021, 4:46 PM
stewart afghanistan reaction...
File photo of Rep. Chris Stewart, photographed on Oct. 16, 2018. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — President Joe Biden insisted he stands “squarely behind” his decision to pull the US military quickly out of Afghanistan, but Utah Congressman Chris Stewart criticized the execution of that call as a catastrophe. 

Stewart: Afghanistan failure erodes trust

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, acknowledged Mr. Biden’s decision as the right policy while emphasizing his disagreement with the way the administration carried it out. 

“It will take us a generation to rebuild the trust from this, if we ever can, in this part of the world,” Stewart told KSL NewsRadio’s Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega.

Read more: Student stuck in Afghanistan, a Utah teacher shares concern

Stewart said he talked with then-President Donald Trump about his plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, which was to evacuate civilians first, then allies in country who worked with the US military and lastly, American soldiers.

“President Biden did exactly the opposite. He pulled our soldiers out and left those other people there,” Stewart said.

[Fact check: A timeline of troop withdrawal in Afghanistan]

What happens to US weapons left behind?

Stewart said Iran will gain possession of US weapons, attack planes and Blackhawk helicopters. China will break down the circuit boards and secure communications contained in those weapons, he added.

“The previous administration was adamant about this, that we will leave no weapons behind. We will leave no people behind. We will leave no classified information behind, and we didn’t do that,” Stewart said. 

Stewart: Leaders should quit

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has no plans to resign after the collapse of the US-trained and -equipped Afghan army, the Washington Times reported.

Austin should resign, Stewart said, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

Read more: Stewart: Biden can’t trust U.S. military chiefs, they should resign

“They are the ones who are responsible for this. And they allowed this to happen. And they should take responsibility for it,” Stewart said.

Regrets on Afghanistan withdrawal?

On Monday, President Biden said:

I am president of the United States of America and the buck stops with me. I’m deeply saddened by the facts we now face. But I do not regret my decision to end America’s war fighting in Afghanistan.

Should he regret his decision? Debbie asked.

Stewart gave the example of China now turning to Taiwan’s leaders and asking: Do you think you can trust US forces? Do you think the US will stand by you in a pinch?

“This will have repercussions for us, our national security and the policies we’re able to implement around the world — that will take, as I said, a generation to overcome,” Stewart said.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Stewart: Afghanistan withdrawal is right policy, wrong execution