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World: Pentagon Spokesman Says China and Russia ‘Had to Marvel’ at U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

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National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Wednesday dismissed a Department of Defense report that found the Chinese Communist Party used the United States’s disastrous military withdrawal from Afghanistan to paint the U.S. as an unreliable international partner and a nation in decline.

John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, takes part in White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., August 1, 2022. © Leah Millis/Reuters John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, takes part in White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., August 1, 2022.

“Nations like China and Russia took a look at what we did in Afghanistan, and we’ve talked about this many, many times over the last year, and had to marvel at the speed, the efficiency of their effectiveness that very small number… of troops… are able to move that many Afghans safely out of that country,” Kirby said when asked about the report during an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday. “No other nation in the world can do that.”

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Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade noted 13 service members died in a suicide bombing during the botched withdrawal and suggested, “You could argue that Russia invaded Ukraine because of it.”

“The report said that China attempted to capitalize on it,” Kirby said. “That’s a big difference from saying that they did or were able to capitalize on this… They spread propaganda about everything,” he responded.

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“We have admitted and acknowledged that not everything about the withdrawal was done perfectly, that there were certainly mistakes made,” Kirby added. “We’ve investigated those mistakes. We owned up for those.”

The report to Congress on Tuesday said the CCP “employed multiple diplomatic tools in an attempt to erode U.S. and partner influence” in 2021, “such as highlighting the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and criticizing U.S.-backed security partnerships.”

The CCP used the withdrawal as “evidence that the U.S. is an unreliable partner and declining power,” the report said.

The world watched in horror in August 2021 as Kabul fell and masses of people scrambled to leave, with Taliban fighters whipping and beating Afghans trying to enter the airport where the U.S. military was handling evacuations. U.S. intelligence agencies warned that the Afghan military and government were in danger of collapse just one month earlier, as Biden publicly assured Americans that the Taliban’s takeover was “not inevitable.”

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As many as 9,000 Americans were left in Afghanistan as the U.S. completed its withdrawal, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report released in February 2022.

The new DOD report vindicates Republicans who warned that summer that the foreign policy failure could weaken the U.S. and empower China. Republicans worried the situation could serve as an invitation to China to escalate aggression against Taiwan.

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