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Mitt Romney: Biden administration must reconsider U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan — now

Utah Republican says administration paying ‘lip service’ to relocating Afghans who helped U.S. troops.

Afghan security personnel take a position during fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in Herat province.
Afghan security personnel take a position during fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 3, 2021. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says the Biden administration is paying “lip service” to its commitment to relocate Afghans who have aided the U.S. during the prolonged war in Afghanistan as the Taliban storms across the country amid the withdrawal of American troops.
Hamed Sarfarazi, Associated Press

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says the Biden administration should immediately reconsider pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan as it sends more soldiers into the country to help evacuate personnel from the embassy in Kabul.

The Republican senator also said Thursday that the administration is paying “lip service” to its commitment to relocate Afghans who have aided the U.S. during the prolonged war as the Taliban storms across the country amid the withdrawal.

“Politics should never come before our national security interests. The Administration must immediately reconsider its Afghanistan withdrawal plan. Further evidence that a crumbling Afghan government has grave implications for US security interests now, and in the future,” said Romney, who opposed the withdrawal.

With security rapidly deteriorating, officials said Thursday that the U.S. is sending in an additional 3,000 troops to help evacuate some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, according to The Associated Press.

“Our first responsibility has always been protecting the safety and the security of our citizens serving in Afghanistan, and around the world,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at briefing, calling the speed of the Taliban advance and resulting instability “of grave concern.”

Price said Thursday’s move shouldn’t be seen as encouraging an already emboldened Taliban.

“We are committed to supporting Afghanistan and its people. That commitment remains,” he said.

Romney questioned that commitment, specifically regarding U.S. efforts to relocate Afghan interpreters and others who have worked alongside Americans during the war with the Taliban.

He reposted on Twitter a video clip of Price saying the U.S. will ramp up efforts to relocate Afghans, and has already brought 1,200 interpreters and translators and their families into the country.

“Nothing but lip service coming from the Administration. We have made commitments to the Afghan interpreters, and others who have provided critical assistance, that we would get them out of Afghanistan. The U.S. must not renege on our commitments amidst this push by the Taliban,” Romney tweeted.

The interpreters are being resettled under a visa program for those who worked with Americans during the 20-year war.

Price said in the briefing that the U.S. will continue the processing and operations of the Special Immigrant Visa program and will continue to engage in diplomacy with the Afghan government and people.

Romney later tweeted that the U.S. must not “stand idly by as our Afghan friends are brutalized by the Taliban. For honor, for meaning of lives lost, and for simple humanity, the President must urgently rush to defend, rescue, and give and expand asylum. There is no time to spare.”

Biden announced the U.S. withdrawal from the “forever war” in Afghanistan in April, saying that the Sept. 11 terror attacks of two decades ago cannot justify American forces still dying in the nation’s longest war.

The U.S. has now removed most of its troops and will formally end its role in the war on Aug. 31. The Pentagon had kept about 650 troops in Afghanistan to support U.S. diplomatic security, including at the airport, The Associated Press reported.

U.S. officials now believe Kabul could be surrounded or fall under Taliban control within weeks, and even the future of the fortress-like U.S. Embassy is increasingly in doubt, Politico reported.

President Joe Biden is holding firm to last to his decision to withdraw U.S. combat troops.

“I do not regret my decision,” Biden told reporters Tuesday, after pointing out that the U.S. has spent more than a trillion dollars and lost thousands of its own troops to train and equip Afghanistan’s military.

“Afghan leaders have to come together,” he said. “They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”

Romney tweeted Wednesday that the Biden administration’s unwillingness to alter the Afghan withdrawal plan based on changing circumstances on the ground and the grave implications for U.S. security interests is a “tragedy.” He also said it’s cause for serious concern about how the administration will deal with global challenges.

In April, Romney called the president’s decision to remove U.S. troops an “error.” He was the only member of Utah’s congressional delegation to oppose the withdrawal, warning that it would have serious national security consequences.

Romney also opposed former President Donald Trump’s plan to remove the U.S. military from Afghanistan, calling it politically motivated.