DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, criticized President Joe Biden’s announcement that the United States’ mission in Afghanistan will end on August 31, drawing an almost 20-year deployment to the region following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to a close.
“When a U.S. President makes a decision on military deployment, that action sends signals around the globe to friends and foes alike,” Ernst, a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and combat veteran, said during a press call on Wednesday.
“At his press conference announcing his full and rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden told the world speed is safety. Let’s be clear. That is not the message General Scott Miller, the top military commander there, delivered just a week earlier. General Miller painted a much more disastrous picture, saying that the country could soon slide into a violent Civil War,” she added.
“From the beginning, President Biden’s decision to haphazardly withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, with no real plan of how to do so, was not a sound foreign policy move. It was a clear callous political message calculated for a front-page or primetime talking point on the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks,” Ernst argued.
She said she had conversations with military leaders in the region and leaders with U.S. Africa Command and Europe Command to discuss threats that the U.S. continues to face around the globe. Ernst said those threats include countries like Russia and China and extremist groups such as Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram.
“These threats are real and they can thrive if given the space to do so,” Ernst said.
She said that the United States can’t ignore the reality on the ground. Ernst is concerned about the Taliban growing stronger and the Afghanistani government’s ability to keep them at bay once U.S. troops withdraw. Ernst added that President Biden’s decision emboldens Taliban and rogue terrorist states like Iran.
“We should not leave haphazardly and without a plan, which I’m concerned President Biden is doing now, doing so unconditionally and uncoordinated could put our nation’s security at risk. This isn’t about keeping our troops in Afghanistan forever. This is about making the right decisions to ultimately keep our homeland safe. The American people know that what happens over a continent away can have a direct impact on their safety,” she stated.
In response to President Biden’s announcement, Ernst introduced the Preventing Terrorism from Hitting America’s Streets Act. She says the bill will require intelligence agencies to assess the risk that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan poses at home.
“Earlier this year, two Yemeni men who were on the FBI terrorist watch list were detained at the southern border, and 11 Iranians were caught illegally entering our country. Let’s not forget that the radical extremists who planned and executed terrorist attacks on our soil nearly 20 years ago also slipped into the country. Failed border security combined with no forward-thinking or strategy around a potential terrorist resurgence in Afghanistan could lead to devastating consequences for our country,” she said.
Listen to the full press call below: