"If we had stayed there, we would have more lives lost and more problems would be in front of us right now."
SEATTLE, WA – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today discussed the one-year anniversary of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan with anchor José Díaz-Balart on MSNBC.
Watch the exchange here, and read a transcript below:
JOSE DIAZ-BALART: Congressman, I want to turn over to the situation in Afghanistan. It's been one year since the Taliban took over and the U.S. withdrew. The Washington Post obtained a draft of a report put together by Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who say, among other things, that more than 800 American citizens were left behind as opposed to the 100 or 200 figure from the Biden Administration and that 3,000 Afghan troops crossed into Iran, taking equipment and vehicles with them. What do you make of these conclusions?
REP. ADAM SMITH: Well, a couple things. I mean, first of all, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is, you know, is a complete disaster, certainly for Afghanistan and for the country. There’s no doubt about that. But what is clear is the mistake that we made over the course of 20 years, not over the course of a month or two or six months, but over the course of 20 years, was we believed that we could reshape Afghanistan fundamentally by the use of the military and U.S. resources. And long after it was clear that that wasn't going to work, we kept trying to do it at enormous costs, in lives certainly, in money, it just wasn’t going to work. And President Biden made the decision that should have been made a lot sooner. We weren't going to be successful. Now, in that, it was a terrible situation. We had a lot of people in Afghanistan that we wanted to get out. And no matter when this war ended or how it ended, that was going to be true. But if we had stayed there, we would have more lives lost and more problems would be in front of us right now. And that's what people refuse to acknowledge. If we had stayed, we would have been at war. The Taliban would have turned on us again after the brief truce that had been negotiated. The cost of trying to stay was incredibly high. I think it's perfectly appropriate to look at, well, how did we do the evacuation, how did we do the pullout, where were mistakes made. But I think there's a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking that imagines that if we stayed, we wouldn't have all of these problems that we obviously would. And I hope that's part of the analysis as well as we look at the events of a year ago.
On April 1, 2022, the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced their appointments to the Afghanistan War Commission, which was established by Sec. 1094 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). The Afghanistan War Commission will conduct a comprehensive review of key decisions related to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan by focusing on the period from June 2001 to August 2021. The Commission is required to submit its final report to appropriate congressional committees within three years of its first meeting, and a public version of that report will be made available to the public in an unclassified form.
Chairman Smith selected Jeremy Bash, who served as Chief of Staff at the United States Department of Defense from 2011-2013 and as the Chief of Staff at the Central Intelligence Agency from 2009-2011. As a senior advisor in both roles to Secretary Leon Panetta, Mr. Bash helped oversee a range of national security, defense, and intelligence issues. From August 2010 to May 2011, he was part of the CIA’s senior management team overseeing the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.