Today during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on lessons learned in Afghanistan, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) discussed the Administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and raised questions on the United States’ early decisions to enter Afghanistan following 9/11. His opening remarks and full video of his exchange with the witnesses can be found below.
Senator Romney: I want to talk about the very beginning of our decision to go into Afghanistan and what we might have learned or done differently. But, I can’t move on to that without acknowledging the fact that we have, in many respects, been showered with shame in the way we left. One, I think a disastrous decision by the prior Administration to surrender to the talks and the agreement we entered into, and continuation of that that decision by the current Administration, and then, of course, its fateful execution of the withdrawal. We’ve left behind thousands. We’ve broken promises to friends and allies. We’ve abandoned women and girls there. And, of course, we’ve put America and our friends and our national interests at much greater risk, as has been pointed out by Senator Johnson and by others today. But—and by the way—I note that when there’s a poll that says that most Americans want to leave Afghanistan, I wish that political people would say “let’s point out to the American people—you really want to leave if there’s going to be abandonment of our principles, abandonment of girls, and a degradation of our national security?”—that, I think, might lead to a different poll answer. That’s obviously a different point. I want to turn to the question of what we could have done at the beginning. Given the fact that we were attacked on 9/11—that the Taliban was responsible for Al-Qaeda having a base of operations in their country—looking back, what should we have done instead? What could we have done instead? I was in Afghanistan actually as Ambassador Crocker was there, and my wife said, “Are you getting used to the 10 and a half hour time change difference?” And I said, “No, it’s the new, one thousand years time change difference that I’m finding hard to get used to.” It struck me that our mission went from one of securing America from potential future attack, to trying to build a democratic style country, and that that was just a bridge far too far.