Sen. Graham: ‘For the Next 20 Years, American Presidents Will Be Dealing with This Catastrophe in Afghanistan’

By Melanie Arter | August 30, 2021 | 1:44pm EDT
Senator Lindsey Graham peaks during the Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing on the 2022 budget for the Defense Department, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 17, 2021. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Senator Lindsey Graham peaks during the Senate Committee on Appropriations hearing on the 2022 budget for the Defense Department, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 17, 2021. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told said Sunday that instead of President Joe Biden’s promise to take Afghanistan off the plate for future presidents, for the next 20 years, U.S. presidents will be dealing with “this catastrophe.”

When asked what he would have done differently than Biden in handling the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the senator said, “Well, number one, I wouldn't have withdrawn. I would have kept the counterterrorism forces on the ground. 

“Your reporter indicated that when we have people on the ground working with indigenous forces, that's the best insurance policy against another 9/11. I would have held the Taliban to the conditions set out in the agreement with Trump, but let me tell you where I think we're at. This is a catalyst-, catastra-, just a fair beyond my ability to describe it,” he said.

“It's been a very emotional couple of days for all of us. The parade of horribles are about to unfold. We're leaving thousands of Afghan allies behind who fought bravely with us. We're going to leave hundreds of American citizens behind. The chance of another 9/11 just went through the roof,” Graham said.

“These drone attacks will not degrade ISIS. The number of ISIS fighters have doubled. We've turned our back on our allies. Who's going to help us in our- in the future, and we set the conditions for another 9/11. I've never been more worried about an attack on our homeland than I am right now, and we did not end this war,” the senator said.

“President Biden said that he wanted to take this- Afghanistan off the plate for future presidents. He's done the exact opposite. For the next 20 years, American presidents will be dealing with this catastrophe in Afghanistan. This war has not ended. We've entered into a new deadly chapter. Terrorists are now in charge of Afghanistan,” he added.

Asked what consequences Biden should face for his handling of Afghanistan, Graham said, “Well, did he get good advice and turn it down? Did he get bad advice and take it? What the hell happened? Whose decision was it to pull all the troops out? Was it good advice, ignored? I just don't know. 

“I think he should be facing a lot of consequences here, because the one thing he wanted to do, and he's a decent man, it's not about him being a decent man, is he wanted to end the war in Afghanistan and make sure we didn't have to deal with it in the future. He's done the exact opposite,” the senator said.

“General Biden's fingerprints are all over this. He's created the conditions for ISIS to flourish in Afghanistan. They've doubled the number of troops available because of the jailbreak. A terrorist organization called the Taliban is now in charge of the country. The likelihood of an attack on our homeland is through the roof. It was medium a month ago. It's got to be high as hell right now, and you cannot break ISIS's will through drone attacks,” he said.

“You've got to have people on the ground hitting these people day in and day out. You can't do it over the horizon. He deserves a lot of accountability for this, and I'm sure it will be coming,” the senator said.

CBS host Ed O’Keefe asked about Graham’s comments about propping up some former Afghan government officials as the new provisional government that the U.S. should recognize. 

“How would that work? And would that require us having a far greater presence in the country?” O’Keefe asked.

“Good question. First thing we need to do is not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. This is a coup d'état to Boris Johnson said don't recognize the Taliban. You don't want to recognize a terrorist group who takes land by force. So we have the vice president under the constitution of Afghanistan and Panjshir Province,” Graham said.

“He has a resistance force. We can provide humanitarian aid. We can provide military assistance. I'm not suggesting we have troops on the ground, but that can be an evacuation site for the future. The last thing you want to do is legitimize this terrorist takeover of Afghanistan. We're going to have hostages left behind - American citizens,” he said.

“Our counsel, the Biden administration, do not legitimize the Taliban, do not recognize them, because if you do, you're going to put Americans at risk all over the world, because other terrorist organizations will say aha, the best way to get America's attention and legitimacy is to kidnap some Americans or people who fought with America,” he said.

“We're in a very dangerous situation in Afghanistan, and I worry about the consequences of how we deal with Afghanistan can affect our footprint all over the world,” the senator said.

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