SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney shared his condolences for the U.S. military service members killed in Afghanistan Thursday. He also criticized the handling of the withdrawal from the country.
The junior senator joined “Inside Sources with Boyd Mattheson” Thursday afternoon to share his reaction to the news of the U.S. military deaths.
“These are typically family people that are serving our nation. So, the tragedy is not just their own loss of life, which is extraordinary, but the impact on the lives of so many others that loved those individuals and relied on them,” Romney told Mattheson.
Horrific terrorist attacks outside Kabul airport. My heart breaks for the U.S. servicemembers wounded in the explosion and the innocent Afghan lives lost. I am inspired by the strength and compassion of our troops and pray for their safety.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 26, 2021
They represented the very best and finest of America, laying down their lives to aid the most vulnerable in perilous circumstances. This loss of life tears at our collective soul. God bless our fallen & wounded Marines, their families and all of our servicemembers in harm’s way.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 26, 2021
Romney criticizes withdrawal from Afghanistan
The senator acknowledged he is in the minority by believing pulling out of Afghanistan now is premature. He sees it as a mistake started by former President Donald Trump and continued by President Joe Biden.
“We certainly lost an enormous level of credibility. Nations that have worked with us as partners when they’ve come to our aid are questioning whether we really consider them partners or not,” said Romney.
Putting his feelings about whether the U.S. should remain in the region, Senator Romney said the handling of the withdrawal has left our country with a black eye. He did make the distinction between the responsibility of the military from that of the government.
Romney explained, “This was not managed poorly by our military. They were given a short timeframe and very difficult circumstances to move. It’s really the decision-makers on the civilian front, the political leaders that I think have made a real mistake.”
Gen. McKenzie: At this time, two suicide bombers, assessed to have been ISIS fighters, detonated in the vicinity of the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport and in the vicinity of the Baron Hotel. #HKIA pic.twitter.com/NzLAhpVkCz
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) August 26, 2021
The rallying cry
Senator Romney said the politics and the optics of the U.S. presence took priority over strategy. He believes it resulted from a repeated message from leaders on both sides of the aisle.
“People say ‘we need to end endless wars’ and that becomes a rallying cry,” said Romney. “If your opponent is still fighting and still wants to attack you, ending endless wars hasn’t occurred because you retreat. They’re still there. They will reconstitute and they will attempt to attack us or our friends.”
The senator said the threat of “radical, violent Islamic terrorism” will remain in the region and it might be stronger now than it was two decades ago.
Senator Romney said President Biden needs to be open and honest with our allies moving forward.
“Speaking the truth is what is essential and letting people know exactly where we are, how decisions are being made,” Romney said. “It’s fine to say ‘that’s something we’re still looking at.’ The American people understand not having all the answers. What they don’t understand is having someone come up with something that may not be true. That leads to a loss in credibility.”
In addition to extracting Americans, Romney said the next step is to assure Afghani citizens, who helped the U.S. military, we will do everything possible to get them out.
“It’s part of our national ethos, we leave no one behind or we die trying,” Romney said.
The deadline to have all U.S. personnel out of Afghanistan is Aug. 31. However, Senator Romney said the arbitrary date should not be an excuse to leave people behind.
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