Washington, DC – Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) joined the “Hugh Hewitt Show” this morning to discuss the Biden Administration’s failed Afghanistan policies and the importance of funding our military.
Listen to the full interview here and see relevant portions of the transcript below:
HUGH HEWITT: I’m joined by Representative Liz Cheney of the House Armed Services Committee because she and I have shared a point of view on Afghanistan for 20 years. And this is a dark and grim week. Congressman Cheney, welcome back. What do you think is happening?
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Hi, Hugh. Well, thank you for having me back. And you’re exactly right. And what’s happening is not a surprise, it’s what was clear would happen. It is, you know, in many ways catastrophic. The United States had approximately 2,500 forces in Afghanistan conducting counterterrorism, counterinsurgency missions, working very closely with the Afghans to help to ensure the Taliban was not able to establish this kind of control of territory, to ensure the Taliban and their close allies, continued allies, fighting partners, al Qaeda, did not get themselves into a position where they could have free rein and set up safe havens again for terrorist training camps of the kind we saw prior to 9/11. Joe Biden, President Biden, made the decision to withdraw all of our forces, and what we’re seeing now is the consequence of that. And it really is devastating.
HEWITT: Liz Cheney, I was probably the most vocal proponent of President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s policy, and I believe we should have treated Afghanistan like South Korea, that we should have been there as long as it took because proximity to Iran and China and Russia, the critical necessity of keeping terrorists out, and yet it seems like they’re not fighting for themselves. These are not battles, these are just surrenders. They’re not in the trenches, they’re not dying to the last man. It doesn’t seem like they are willing after 20 years to sacrifice anything except American lives and treasure.
REP. CHENEY: Well, I think you’ve got to recognize the circumstances that the Afghan forces are facing now. You know, for example, they have been able to rely on U.S. airpower, being able to fight the Taliban when you can count on our airpower is a whole different thing than the situation we’re in today. You know, the military and the Administration kept saying, and frankly the Trump Administration was saying the same thing — because President Trump wanted to do this, President Biden did do it — it was wrong then, and it’s wrong now — but kept saying we’ll have forces stationed over the horizon, we can provide help if it’s needed. You know, well, over the horizon turns out to be what, seven, eight hours away? So, being in the situation where America has abandoned our allies in Afghanistan, NATO is following suit, we basically left the Afghans to the control of the Taliban. You know, it is a brutal, horrific terrorist organization, and we’re seeing what’s happening now — they’re moving in, and obviously what they’re doing to the women is just disgraceful. They’re trying to hollow out civil society, they’re killing tribal elders, they’re shutting down radio stations, they’re conducting targeted killings of people involved in media and culture, people who are working to stop this kind of radical Islamic Emirate from being established. But it is, at the end of the day, going to demonstrate to be very bad for the U.S. national security interests, and certainly for our allies, and for the people of Afghanistan I’m afraid.
HEWITT: Now, Congresswoman Cheney, for seventeen years I’ve held two fundraisers a year for the Semper Fi Fund because 2,312 U.S. military personnel died in Afghanistan. 20,066 have been seriously wounded and continue to require — and we should continue to provide care for them. Did they fight in vain? After 20 years was it all for not?
REP. CHENEY: No, absolutely not. The fact that for 20 years we were able to prevent terrorist safe havens from being established. We were able to help to work with the Afghan government. You know, they kept us safe for all these years from, you know, further terrorist attacks from the soil of Afghanistan. So, certainly not in vain. However, I do think that the decision that President Biden made, this withdrawal, isn’t worthy of the sacrifices that they’ve made. When you look just at how the State Department, for example, is handling this — I mean, it’s an embarrassment, and it has a huge impact on America’s standing around the world. The State Department is setting up, you know, hashtags and saying the Taliban has an interest in coming to the table, “let’s negotiate.” The Taliban isn’t gonna do anything like that. The Taliban now has got the momentum to conduct this massive military offensive — I think last I saw they can control at this point something like two-thirds of the territory. And for the American State Department, you know, a superpower, the leader of the world, to have our spokesman up there talking about hashtags, it just makes us a laughingstock. So, we really do have to get back to the place where our allies can count on us, where they know we’re gonna stand with them, we’re not going to abandon them, and when we’re going to conduct our foreign policy in a way that’s worthy of the men and women in uniform who’ve sacrificed so much for all of us.
HEWITT: But these Democrats can’t have it both ways can they, Congresswoman? They can’t say, “I’m an Armed Services hawk,” and then vote for the Bernie Sanders budget, right? You can’t have it both ways.
REP. CHENEY: You can’t, that’s exactly right. You know, if you want to really do what’s necessary to defend the nation, you have to support the investments, and that means you’ve got to support a budget that provides the kind of growth that’s necessary, you have to support a top line that provides the kind of growth that’s necessary. I mean there’s, you know, reality and there’s rhetoric, and when it comes to the defense of the nation, it has severe consequences if you engage in the political rhetoric, but you don’t back it up with the support for the kind of budget numbers we need.