Calls for President Joe Biden to take responsibility for the foreign policy disaster taking place in Afghanistan have been ramping up for weeks. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) spoke to Townhall on Thursday afternoon about his Afghanistan Accountability Act, which he introduced last week and has spoken to local outlets about. He also spoke about his reaction to the president's failures on Afghanistan.
The congressman has been speaking out on the issue for months. In comments from April that his office pointed Townhall to, Rep. Moore said:
I believe now, as I did when President Trump was faced with the same decision, that a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan should not be done for political gain, but as part of a decisive strategy to leave Afghanistan and regional partners self-sufficient and capable of providing their own security. The Biden administration’s decision to pull out our troops on the twentieth anniversary of the attacks on 9/11 appears more theatrical than tactical. If our plan is not to maintain a permanent and strategic regional presence, we need to bring our troops home, but we must clearly determine our objectives in the region before making that decision.
Progress has been hard earned by American troops, coalition forces, and Afghan partners. I want to honor their sacrifice by continuing to working with my Armed Services Committee colleagues and military leadership to come to a thoughtful decision based in strategy and reality rather than theater and ceremony.
Democrats have cited polls highlighting that Americans support withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is accurate. Rep. Moore acknowledged the support comes "across the board, and from all over the political spectrum."
It’s time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan—and American veterans agree. pic.twitter.com/KVyhz3spQp— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) August 25, 2021
That's not the point though. What Americans don't support, according to consistent polling, is how such a withdrawal has been handled. The congressman continued that the withdrawal needed to be done in a way that "puts us in a position of strength."
Throughout the interview, Rep. Moore repeatedly emphasized this sense of "gross overconfidence" from the Biden administration that "led to incompetence," using words like "chaos" to describe how the withdrawal has gone.
In addition to the "several classified briefings" which the congressman could not share the details of, he emphasized that he had a "gut" and "a sense" that "the intelligence community had this in the general sphere of accuracy," and that people need to be held accountable.
He seemed particularly frustrated with Sec. of State Antony Blinken, whose timeline was off on how badly the situation could go wrong, specifically that it deteriorated quicker than the secretary said it would. "The State Department should not have been running point on this," he stressed.
"I don't do messaging bills," the congressman said about his legislation. When asked what he hopes to come of the legislation, especially considering the tragedy which unfolded on Thursday, he is asking for leadership with committees of jurisdiction to "implement it however is most effective. That's what I care about." He went on to say "I don't care if it ends up being a bill that our team passes, I want this to go towards going into committee hearings that are going to be coming up," exuding a sense of practicality but also humbleness.
He highlighted two "fundamental" aspects of the bill, he's going to be pushing for, with one being providing details to report on the details to do with decision making with the available intelligence. Another had to do with designating the Taliban as a terrorist organization and taking a sanction approach.
Rep. Moore represents the 1st district of Utah, which includes the northern part of the state. The congressman acknowledged it is certainly far from Afghanistan, though he shared that even he has heard from constituents and Afghan allies over there who need assistance.
The congressman somberly said that it's "been a very difficult thing the last 48 hours, knowing that the situation is deteriorating." Less than 24 hours before Rep. Moore spoke to Townhall, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul had warned of a "security threat" and warned people by the airport to "leave immediately" as a result.
Moore was mindful about such a plight. "What do we tell them? Do we tell them to hunker in their home, and run the risk, run the risk that's imminent with that," he said, pointing out one option. "Or do we tell them to try to get to the airfield, and there's risks associated with that. The congressman lamented that there were "two bad options, and we shouldn't be in this situation."
Rep. Moore also reiterated the priority that Afghanistan ought to be. During a press conference on Tuesday with other members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), he lambasted the $3.5 trillion budget deal, including but not merely because of the timeline of handling it while there is a crisis in Afghanistan.
This is one more reason why the congressman lamented "it's just poor leadership, and I'm fed up with it at this point."
The congressman also stuck to how he didn't want to merely badmouth, but also to share the priorities of the Republican Party, and what it can and will do for the American people once back in control of Congress.
"The American people are watching this" Moore said," pointing out how there is "a common thread for all of [Biden's] policy making," and emphasizing his party "will be in a strong position to take the majority." He shared that Americans will be able to see what the party is doing, through upcoming task forces that deal with GOP priorities.
The congressman did not merely criticize Biden when it comes to Afghanistan. Rather, there is "a common thread with President Biden's leadership."
Rep. Moore said one could parallel "Biden's decision making on Afghanistan" with immigration, energy independence, and the economy.
The congressman was particularly focused on an "unwillingness to look at data, and say 'okay, good policy,'" emphasizing that there was good policies from Republican control of Congress and the White House, which the current one should have put politics aside to keep. Moore questioned "how can you completely want to go away from" what was "good and effective" policy.
"Show some leadership," Rep. Moore urged Biden. "It would almost be in your best interest to go with good policy."