H.R. McMaster once skewered an army colonel for suggesting Afghans were ‘inherently more corrupt’ than Americans, according to a new book

Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster speaking at the Center for a New American Security's annual conference in Washington, DC on June 28, 2017.
Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

  • Gen. H.R. McMaster once blasted a US colonel for suggesting Afghans were more corrupt than Americans, a new book says.
  • “They are no more inherently corrupt than we are, and they are fighting and dying beside us every day,” he said.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff wrote that he witnessed the exchange between McMaster and the colonel.

General H.R. McMaster once skewered a US colonel in Afghanistan after he suggested that Afghans were inherently more corrupt than Americans, according to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s new book, “Midnight In Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could.”

The exchange, which Schiff witnessed, took place during a trip to Kabul before Donald Trump became president. The California Democrats said he made the trip to oversee “rule-of-law issues” in Afghanistan, and that he was impressed with McMaster’s commitment to the US’ Afghan partners.

According to Schiff’s book, he witnessed McMaster giving a dressing down to a US colonel for suggesting that Afghans were inherently corrupt.

“They are no more inherently corrupt than we are, and they are fighting and dying beside us every day, so you should show some respect,” McMaster told the officer, the book said.

Schiff recounted the story in a passage detailing his disappointment when McMaster defended then White House advisor Jared Kushner’s efforts to establish a secret backchannel of communication with Russia. News of Kushner’s efforts sent shockwaves through the political and media ecosystem at the time, with national security veterans describing Kushner’s actions as unprecedented and highly unusual.

McMaster defended Kushner, saying on cable news that the US had a long history of having backchannels with other countries. But Schiff called that assertion “preposterous,” writing, “Yes, there are time when the United States government has used back-channel communications with nations like Cuba or Iran. But those back channels are designed to facilitate communication for our government, not to conceal information from our government, and for McMaster to suggest otherwise was more than disingenuous, it was dangerous.”

McMaster was one of six national security advisors, including those in acting capacities, who served Trump. He took over the role in early 2017 following the resignation of Gen. Michael Flynn, who was forced to step down after it surfaced that he lied about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador.

McMaster resigned in April 2018 amid a string of policy disagreements with Trump and an increasingly sour relationship with the president. He was followed by John Bolton, who also resigned and was succeded by Robert O’Brien. Before joining the Trump White House, McMaster had a long military career that included posts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Democrats’ criticisms of Biden are actually a reminder of why the GOP is such a danger to our democracy

joe biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Democrats have taken Joe Biden to task for his handling of COVID and the Afghanistan withdrawl.
  • On the other hand, Republicans refuse to call out Donald Trump’s lies and mistakes.
  • The difference underlines just how much of a threat the GOP is to America’s democracy.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The past two months have brought a dramatic change to the Biden presidency.

COVID-19 numbers have skyrocketed. The Afghanistan withdrawal was mired by the deaths of US soldiers and chaos at the Kabul airport. The recent revelation that a US drone strike in the country killed 10 civilians only added to the fallout.

For a President who came into office with decades of experience at the highest levels of government, August and September have shown that experience can’t always prepare you for the most difficult moments.

Biden’s critics, both Republican and Democrat alike, have noticed. But only one team has shown integrity in holding the President’s feet to the fire.

Criticizing your own

The right’s criticisms of Biden have been as predictable as they are ridiculous, such as the suggestion that Biden resign over Afghanistan.

But criticism from his own party has been more substantive. Democratic senators from every wing of the party criticized the administration’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Just this week, many Democrats have been up in arms about the Biden administration’s treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “urge[d] President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these expulsions” while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the situation “a stain on our country.”

As surprising as it may sound, this criticism is a good thing. Healthy democracy is built on politicians and pundits willing to criticize their own party’s leaders when they make a mistake. It also beats the alternative: fawning over a dear leader with no critical eye or pushback to their decisions.

That is how the Republicans live. That is how democracies die.

Fear of your own

The need for serious intra-party criticism to foster a healthy democracy is why it’s so worrying that Republicans are completely unwilling to criticize their leaders, or more specifically, their leader. Even months removed from office, Donald Trump and the political movement that he represents are beyond reproach by Republicans.

Those who do speak out, like Rep. Liz Cheney, are ousted from leadership, while others, like Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, are forced into an early retirement.

Republican cable pundits like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are the major drivers. Not only do they spread dangerous misinformation on a daily basis, but when it comes to mistakes and missteps by Trump and other Republicans, they are silent.

This week, it was revealed that Trump’s lawyer had given Mike Pence a six-point plan to steal the 2020 election. If Biden were to propose such an undemocratic idea today, Democrats in the media and in the Capitol would call for his impeachment. But Republicans refuse to hold their own to account, even when it means pushing a lie.

Over the past year, the GOP has proven that they don’t care about maintaining our democratic system of government. They care about power. Integrity and doing what’s right is meaningless if it won’t help them entrench their minority rule over the United States.

It helps when Fox News and other right-wing media are completely in their pocket, rather than traditional media which largely tries to hold the country’s leadership in check, regardless of who’s in charge.

This is just the latest example of how the GOP is better at politicking in our democratic system than the Democrats – and the latest example of how the GOP’s skill at exploiting that system is going to be the very thing that crushes it.

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Biden claims the US is ‘not at war,’ despite combat deployments to Iraq and Syria, and counter-terror missions in Africa

President Joe Biden concludes his address to the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2021 in New York City.
President Joe Biden concludes his address to the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2021 in New York City.

  • Biden spoke before the UN General Assembly Tuesday, where he declared the US was “not at war.”
  • But the so-called “War on Terror” continues elsewhere, including troop deployments to Iraq and Syria.
  • The US also continues to engage in counter-terrorism missions in Africa.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Speaking before the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, President Joe Biden concluded his speech by making a bold – and ultimately false – claim about the United States’s military engagements abroad.

“I stand here today – for the first time in 20 years the United States is not at war,” Biden declared as he concluded his speech. “We’ve turned the page.”

Biden’s speech was part of a wider effort to move on from the 20-year Afghanistan war, which ended with an ignominious withdrawal at the end of August. “The President will essentially drive home the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on purposeful, effective, intensive American diplomacy,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of Biden’s speech.

But Biden’s claim ignores ongoing US military engagements abroad, including in Iraq, Syria, and Africa, underscoring the difficulty of closing the chapter in the way Biden envisions.

The New York Times reported on Monday that roughly 2,500 American troops are still in Iraq right now, largely guarding US military installations, and that many of them were mere toddlers when the US first invaded the country. Those troops have become the target of rocket fire by Iranian-backed militias, triggering retaliatory US drone strikes and thereby a continuation of military activities.

Additionally, 900 American troops are currently in Syria advising the Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against the remnants of ISIS. Senior administration officials told POLITICO in July that there are no plans to change that in the near future, despite the lack of any formal declaration of war and the opposition of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government.

Beyond Iraq and Syria, US forces remained stationed in a variety of foreign countries. In a June letter to Congress required under the War Powers Resolution, including approximately 2,976 United States military personnel in Jordan, 2,742 in Saudi Arabia, and 83 in Lebanon for the purposes of counterterrorism. The letter also mentions an undisclosed number of counter-terrorism forces in the Lake Chad Basin, the Sahel region, and East Africa.

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62% of Americans believe US troops will have to return to Afghanistan to fight terrorism: poll

afghanistan us evacuation
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, enters a plane evacuating people at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug 17, 2021.

  • 62% of Americans think US troops will have to return to Afghanistan to fight terrorism, a new poll says.
  • But 69% of Americans say that ending the war was the right thing to do, according to Quinnipiac.
  • The poll also found that 50% of Americans now disapprove of the way Biden’s handling his job.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

According to new poll released by Quinnipiac University, 62% of Americans think US forces will have to return to Afghanistan to fight terrorism.

The results highlight a stark partisan split. While 83% of Republicans believe American forces will have to return to the Central Asian country, just 38% of Democrats agree. Meanwhile, 65% of independents also believe that US forces will have to return.

At the end of August, the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, putting an end to a nearly 20-year war that began following the 9/11 terror attacks. US forces evacuated over 100,000 people from the country, but nearly 170 Afghan civilians died in an August 26 terrorist attack by ISIS-K at the Kabul airport, which also killed 13 US service members.

Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that a civil war in the country is likely following the US withdrawal, and that such a conflict could enable a resurgence by the terror group Al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, Biden administration officials have argued that the US can effectively combat any terrorist threat via “over-the-horizon” capabilities, including using aerial surveillance and drone strikes from military installations in the region.

Yet even as most Americans anticipate further US troop deployments, a strong majority – 69% of all respondents – say that ending the war in Afghanistan was the right thing to do. That includes 48% of Republicans, more than the 45% who say it was the decision was wrong-headed.

But the poll also spelled trouble for President Joe Biden: 50% of Americans now disapprove of the way he’s handling his job, while just 42% approve. That includes a majority of self-identified independents, 52% of whom disapprove of Biden.

The Quinnipiac University poll, conducted from September 10 through 13 following the August 31 withdrawal. The poll included 1,210 adults nationwide and had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

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US officials helped an American citizen and their family escape Afghanistan across an overland route

Afghanistan refugees walking at dawn
Afghanistan refugees walking at dawn.

  • An American citizen and their family fleeing Afghanistan were helped across the border by the US, according to the Associated Press.
  • The group fled the Taliban-controlled country via an “overland” route.
  • Biden administration officials say “around 100” Americans remain in Afghanistan after the US pulled out troops.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Biden administration confirmed that it helped with an American citizen and their family members escape from Afghanistan to a neighboring country using an “overland route,” according to an Associated Press report on Monday.

The evacuation was the first reported time that a US family has been assisted in their escape across a land border since American military planes last left the country on August 30.

The unnamed official wouldn’t give any specific details of the escape route, including the neighboring country in which the evacuees arrived, to protect its viability for future missions, the AP reported.

American embassy officials met the group at the Afghanistan border. An overland evacuation meant the group would’ve arrived at the border on foot or in a vehicle.

Five countries border Afghanistan including Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China. The disputed Kashmir region claimed by both India and Pakistan also borders Afghanistan.

America has embassies in all but one of those countries, Iran. Given the tense state of affairs between the US and Iran, it’s likely the overland escape would’ve been carried out to one of the more friendly countries to the US.

A tweet from Rep. Ronny Jackson confirmed that four US citizens from Texas were evacuated, including young children, citing the “first successful ground evacuation since the US left Kabul.”

Airlifting additional US citizens out of Afghanistan has proven difficult following the official end of the US’ presence in the country. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas on Sunday warned of what he called a “hostage” situation at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in northern Afghanistan as six planes were prevented from leaving.

“In fact, we have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif Airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul, the Republican leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Fox News Sunday.

Also on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “around 100” US citizens remain in Afghanistan and that the Biden administration is in touch with all American citizens that have been identified in the country. “We are going to find ways – the ones that want to leave – to get them out of Afghanistan,” Klain said.

It’s not the first time that the US has had to go to extreme measures to get its citizens out of hostile Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. In 1980, the Central Intelligence Agency working with the Canadian government flew American diplomats using assumed identities out of Iran following the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

Afghan refugees have been fleeing to their country’s borders in attempts to seek asylum in neighboring countries, with the BBC reporting large masses gathering at Afghanistan-Pakistan border crossings. Pakistan and Iran have declined to accept additional Afghan refugees, the British news outlet reported.

The Taliban flag now flies over the Afghanistan border, including at a crossing near Chaman, Pakistan.

Afghanistan-Pakistan border crossing Taliban flag
A Taliban flag flies at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Other Middle Eastern and European countries are taking a hard line on migration across their borders in the wake of the US withdrawal. Turkey is reinforcing its border with Iran using three-meter tall concrete slabs, according to the Guardian, while Greece recently completed a 25-mile wall on its border with Turkey, according to CNN.

And at the border of the European Union in Poland, soldiers have constructed a makeshift border of barb fencing with neighboring Belarus to stop the rising tide of migrants from countries including Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Reuters.

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Gen. Mark Milley says a civil war in Afghanistan is ‘likely’ after US troop withdrawal, potentially leading to a resurgence of al Qaeda

Mark Milley
Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

  • Gen. Mark Milley said that a future civil war in Afghanistan is “likely” after the US troop exit.
  • “I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war,” he said during a Fox News interview.
  • President Biden last week said that he did not want “to extend this forever war” in Afghanistan.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that a future civil war in Afghanistan is “likely” after the US troop withdrawal from the country, which could lead to the reemergence of groups like al Qaeda and ISIS.

During an interview with Fox News National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin that aired on Saturday, Milley was asked if the US was safer with its military presence in Afghanistan having been eliminated.

“Well, you know, this is something that I’ve thought a lot about,” he said. “And I personally think that my military estimate is that the conditions are likely to develop of a civil war. I don’t know if the Taliban is gonna be able to consolidate power and establish governance – they may be, maybe not.”

He added: “But I think there’s at least a very good probability of a broader civil war, and that will then in turn lead to conditions that could in fact, lead to a reconstitution of al Qaeda or a growth of ISIS or other myriad of terrorist groups. You could see a resurgence of terrorism coming out of that general region within 12, 24, 36 months. And we’re going to monitor that.”

Milley went on to explain that intelligence gathering by the US will be complicated by the fact that the country no longer has a presence in Afghanistan.

“We’ll have to reestablish some human intelligence networks, etc.,” he said. “And then as opportunities present themselves, we’ll have to continue to conduct strike operations if there’s a threat to the United States.”

Read more: The ultimate White House org chart to 600+ members of Biden’s staff and who makes six figures

When asked if he could foresee a scenario where US troops would have to return to Afghanistan, Milley said it would be a “very difficult policy choice.”

“I wouldn’t say yes or no to anything actually,” he said, emphasizing that the country would continue to analyze intelligence information. “I think those are … it’s too early to say anything like that at this point.”

Milley’s comments come as President Joe Biden and his foreign policy and defense teams oversaw a tumultuous August in Afghanistan – defined by the Aug. 15 fall of Kabul to the Taliban, the deaths of 13 US service members and at least 169 Afghans in a Aug. 26 suicide bombing perpetuated by the Islamic State affiliate ISIS-K, and the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline which the Taliban was emphatic on preserving.

The withdrawal marked the end to a nearly 20-year conflict in the country, which was put into motion by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda hijacked planes that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City, severely damaged the Pentagon, and crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed on that fateful day.

Many lawmakers are distressed that Afghanistan could become a haven for terrorists with the lack of a US or allied military presence.

The Taliban have stressed that they have moderated since the 1990s and said that they would respect the rights of women, although many in Afghanistan and throughout the international community are highly skeptical.

In forcefully defending his decision to leave Afghanistan, Biden last week reiterated that he did not want “to extend this forever war.”

“To those asking for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I ask: ‘What is the vital national interest?’ In my view, we only have one: to make sure Afghanistan can never be used again to launch an attack on our homeland,” he said.

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Biden pays respects to the 13 fallen US service members killed in Afghanistan at Dover Air Force Base

us service members carry a us flag-laden casket as joe Biden jill biden and others look on
President Joe Biden, First lady Jill Biden, and other officials attend the dignified transfer of the remains of a fallen service member at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on August, 29, 2021.

  • President Biden on Sunday went to Dover to pay tribute to the service members killed in Afghanistan.
  • The service members who died were assisting in the evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport.
  • In a statement, Biden lauded the “bravery and selflessness” of the fallen in their service.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden on Sunday met privately with the families of the 13 US service members who were killed in the suicide bombing near the Kabul airport and received the bodies of the fallen officers who died in Afghanistan.

First lady Jill Biden joined the president at Dover Air Base to participate in the “dignified transfer” of remains, a solemn process where the remains of service members killed in foreign combat are transported from an aircraft to an awaiting vehicle.

The fallen officers ranged in age from 20 to 31, and included a Marine from Wyoming who was expecting his first child in just a few weeks and another Marine from California who raved about her job and was photographed holding an Afghan child just a few days ago.

Five of the fallen service members were only 20 years old, having been born shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks that drove the US to invade Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaeda and bring down the Taliban.

The service members were in the country to aid in the evacuation efforts, as Biden has sought to end a war that has been waged under four US presidents, including himself.

“The 13 service members that we lost were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our highest American ideals and while saving the lives of others,” Biden said in a statement released on Saturday. “Their bravery and selflessness has enabled more than 117,000 people at risk to reach safety thus far.”

Biden Dover Afghanistan
President Joe Biden and other officials attend the dignified transfer of the remains of fallen service members at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, on August, 29, 2021. Last week, 13 members of the US military were killed in Afghanistan.

The fallen service members returning to Dover were:

  • Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska
  • Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California
  • Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California
  • Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio
  • Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee

Family members of fallen officers often come to Dover to witness the return of their loved ones as they come back to the country they fought so valiantly to protect.

Also at the ceremony were a large group of US officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, US Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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Romney, criticizing Trump and Biden, says the US is facing current situation in Afghanistan ‘because of terrible decisions made by two administrations’

Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney blasted the Afghanistan policies of President Biden and former President Trump.
  • On CNN, he called the current situation in Afghanistan “a humanitarian and foreign policy tragedy.”
  • Romney said that it would be “a moral stain” to leave Afghan allies behind after the US withdrawal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Mitt Romney on Sunday said that the current on-the-ground situation in Afghanistan is a consequence of policy failures made by President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the Utah Republican told host Jake Tapper that the rush to withdraw Afghan allies and Americans was “preventable” and criticized past decisions by the two administrations when asked if US troops should remain in the country past the Aug. 31 deadline to aid with further evacuations.

“Leaving Americans behind and leaving our Afghan friends behind who’ve worked with us would put upon us and will put upon us a moral stain,” the senator said. “This did not have to happen. It was preventable. We didn’t have to be in this rush-rush circumstance with terrorists breathing down our neck.”

He emphasized: “But it’s really the responsibility of the prior administration and this administration that has caused this crisis to be upon us and has led to what without question a humanitarian and foreign policy tragedy.”

Romney, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, continued to focus on what he felt were serious missteps in the approaches taken by Biden and Trump, who both sought to wind down the war in Afghanistan.

Read more: How Americans who helped prosecute the Taliban are going down a ‘black hole’ to help their Afghan interpreters

“If you focus on what we should do right now, recognize we’re in the position we’re in right now is because of terrible decisions made by two administrations,” he said. “One, the Trump administration negotiating directly with the Taliban, getting ready to invite them to Camp David, opening up a prison of 5,000 Taliban and probably ISIS-K individuals and letting them free. We don’t know whether some of them were involved in the attack that occurred.”

He added: “These were the decisions that led to what you’re seeing and the danger that exists at the airport. This should not have happened.”

The Thursday terrorist attack near the Kabul airport that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members marked the deadliest day for US military members in the country since 2011.

Romney was also critical of Biden’s decision to close Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, which was once the largest US military base in the country but has since fallen to the Taliban.

The key facility was abandoned by the US ahead of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Romney went on to say that the fight against terrorism will continue, even with troops out of the country.

“You can’t, as one party, end a war,” he said. “It takes two parties to end a war. The Taliban and the radical violent jihadists in the world haven’t stopped fighting. They’re going to continue to fight us. The war is not over.”

While Romney focused on Biden and Trump in his criticism, the handling of the war was also overseen by former President George W. Bush, who first deployed US troops to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, along with former President Barack Obama, who sent 30,000 additional troops to the country in late 2009.

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Biden plans to evacuate all US diplomatic staff from Afghanistan by withdrawal deadline: report

US embassy Kabul
A US Chinook military helicopter flies above the US embassy in Kabul.

  • Biden is planning to evacuate diplomatic staff in Afghanistan by Aug. 31, per The Washington Post.
  • Without any plans set in place, the US diplomatic presence in Kabul will go dark for some time.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken tamped down the likelihood of an on-the-ground presence in Kabul.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is planning to evacuate all diplomatic staff in Afghanistan by the Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline with no concrete plans on whether or not they will return to the country, according to The Washington Post.

The Taliban has signaled some interest in the US keeping a diplomatic outpost in Kabul, but the Biden administration has not yet concluded on what their potential presence in the country might resemble.

State Department spokesman Ned Price on Friday said that the Biden administration is “actively discussing” the Taliban’s request with allies. But he said that the US has not spoken with the Taliban about a vision for a future US diplomatic presence, according to a US official who spoke to The Washington Post.

Without any plans set in place, it is all but assured that the US diplomatic presence in Kabul will go dark for some time, which would make it more difficult for the Biden administration as they have sought to continue aiding Americans and Afghans who hope to leave the country after Aug. 31. The withdrawal comes two decades after US-led troops ousted the Taliban in the “War on Terror.” The group made a lightning-quick advance to regain control of the country this month.

In crafting plans for a potential diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, the Biden administration must also determine whether they will formally acknowledge a Taliban government, according to The Post report.

When asked how the US can help individuals who will remain in Afghanistan after Aug. 31, the US said it was working on the logistics.

“We’re developing detailed plans for how we can continue to provide consular support and facilitate departures for those who wish to leave after August 31,” a senior State Department official said.

Read more: How Americans who helped prosecute the Taliban are going down a ‘black hole’ to help their Afghan interpreters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press” was not optimistic about a future on-the-ground diplomatic presence in the country, saying “that’s not likely to happen.”

“What is going to happen is that our commitment to continue to help people leave Afghanistan who want to leave and who are not out by September 1st, that endures,” he said. “There’s no deadline on that effort. And we have ways, we have mechanisms to help facilitate the ongoing departure of people from Afghanistan if they choose to leave.”

There are roughly 350 Americans remaining in Afghanistan who want to leave the country, a State Department spokesperson told The Post. Several of the individuals may have already found a way to leave Kabul, the spokesperson added.

The State Department also conversed with 280 additional individuals who claimed to be American citizens in Afghanistan but had either not yet relayed their plans or informed officials that they wanted to stay in the country.

US passport holders who want to depart Kabul can get into the airport, despite the rush in evacuations before the looming withdrawal date, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Saturday.

Army Maj. Gen. William D. “Hank” Taylor reported that in a 24-hour period between Friday and Saturday, 6,800 individuals were flown out of Kabul – with 4,000 of the evacuees on US military planes.

Roughly 117,000 individuals have been flown out of Afghanistan since the evacuation undertaking began on Aug. 14, Taylor said.

As Afghanistan prepares for a full US troop withdrawal, many residents of fearful of the impending Taliban rule.

A terrorist attack at the Kabul airport that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members last week only served to magnify the level of danger that has permeated much of Kabul. The suicide bombing was carried out by ISIS-K, the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

The US on Friday retaliated to the airport attack with a drone strike that killed two high-profile Islamic State militants, according to the Pentagon.

Biden on Saturday reiterated that “this strike was not the last” and warned that another terrorist attack at the Kabul airport is “highly likely in the next 24 to 36 hours.”

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Ted Cruz says the Biden administration’s decision to vacate Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan was a ‘political decision’ that ‘proved catastrophic’

A plane lands at Bagram airfield in Afghanistan.
A US Air Force transport plane lands at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on July 1, 2021.

  • Ted Cruz criticized the Biden administration’s decision to vacate Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base.
  • Bagram was once the largest US military base in the country but has since fallen to the Taliban.
  • GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse have both called on Biden to retake the key base.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the Biden administration’s decision to vacate Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base in July on Friday, in the aftermath of Thursday’s terrorist attack near the Kabul airport that killed at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members.

Bagram, which was once the largest US military base in the country but has since fallen to the Taliban, is roughly 40 miles from Kabul. The facility was abandoned by the US ahead of the August 31 troop deadline from Afghanistan.

The Texas Republican took to Twitter and posted a tweet from Fox News commentator Brit Hume, who tweeted out an August statement from Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who spoke of the need to leave Bagram to secure the US Embassy in Kabul.

“Our task given to us at that time, our task was to protect the embassy in order for the embassy personnel to continue to function with their consular service and all that,” Milley said at the time. “If we were to keep both Bagram and the embassy going, that would be a significant number of military forces that would have exceeded what we had or stayed the same or exceeded what we had. So we had to collapse one or the other, and a decision was made.”

Read more: How Americans who helped prosecute the Taliban are going down a ‘black hole’ to help their Afghan interpreters

Cruz, who has been highly critical of the Biden administration’s Afghanistan strategy, tweeted that the US leaving Bagram was “catastrophic.”

“What Milley said on 8/18 is exactly what DoD said on our briefing today: They abandoned Bagram bc they were ordered to reduce troop levels below that needed to maintain both Bagram & embassy security. This political decision- to close Bagram BEFORE evacuation – proved catastrophic,” he wrote.

In addition to Cruz, a number of other GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, have decried the decision to leave Bagram. Graham and Sasse have urged President Joe Biden to retake the facility.

Biden during a Thursday address at the White House was asked if he rejected calls to recapture the base.

“On the tactical questions of how to conduct an evacuation or a war, I gather up all the major military personnel that are in Afghanistan – the commanders, as well as the Pentagon,” he said. “And I ask for their best military judgment: what would be the most efficient way to accomplish the mission.”

He added: “They concluded – the military – that Bagram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on Kabul. And so, I followed that recommendation.”

With the August 31 withdrawal deadline quickly approaching, Biden has so far stuck with the date to finish evacuating additional Americans and Afghan allies from the Kabul airport.

As of Friday, the US has evacuated more than 109,000 people from Afghanistan since August 14.

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