Maine Senator Angus King supports Biden plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan
BRUNSWICK Maine (WMTW) - Maine Sen. Angus King supports President Joe Biden’s plan to withdrawal all 2,500 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan by September upon the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which triggered America’s longest war.
“I can argue it both ways,” King said in a ZOOM interview with WMTW from his home. “But I think the president made the right call.”
King, an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, giving Biden’s party its 50th Senate seat, sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which held a hearing this week on the plan and global threats with the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA Director.
King said President Biden had been “boxed in” by former President Donald Trump’s agreement with the resurgent Taliban in February 2020 to bring troops home by May 1, a timeline that had been supported by Maine Congressman Jared Golden, who now backs the Biden plan.
“Basically, the Taliban said if you’re not out by May 1st, we’re going to start killing your people,” King said in the interview.
King continued, “The question the president had to face is, ‘Do we stay in at a much higher risk to our people? Do we put in more people? Do we commit essentially forever?’ And I think the president made the tough decision and said, ‘No.’”
The radical Islamist Taliban regime ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until it was toppled by the U.S. invasion in 2001 for giving safe harbor to Al Qaeda, which based its terrorist training camps and leadership there before launching the 9/11 attacks.
King said, “We’ve been there 20 years; we’ve lost several thousand people; we’ve had tens of thousands of injuries; a trillion dollars. It’s time for the Afghan government to stand on its own, and it if can’t, then we just can’t be responsible for the whole world.”
But King also echoed the concern of Maine Sen. Susan Collins and other leaders who fear the absence of U.S. troops could lead to the fall of Afghanistan’s elected government.
The Taliban again controls a substantial amount of Afghanistan territory. U.S. allies in NATO plan to remove their remaining 7,000 troops.
King said, “It’s not going to go well. The Taliban is gaining ground, and it’s likely they will take over the country sooner rather than later if we’re not there.”
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