Following up on his remote appearance before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in person yesterday. The State Department has posted the text and video of his opening statement here.
The song remains the same. Blinken continues to fire blanks. However, some of the senators had live ammo. Blinken faced a barrage of critical questions and comments that had the additional advantage (as Henry Kissinger might put it) of being true.
For example, Senator Portman’s mild demeanor masked the tenor of his devastating comments on one of Blinken’s (and Biden’s) characteristic themes in our ongoing disgrace. Portman noted in passing that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was a no-show at the hearing.
Where was Secretary Austin? Committee chairman Robert Menendez threatened to subpoena Austin, saying that “a full accounting of the U.S. response to this crisis is not complete without the Pentagon — especially when it comes to understanding the complete collapse of the U.S.-trained and -funded Afghan military.”
Senator Johnson took up the claim of Biden et al. that what we have here is extraordinary success.
Senator Risch sought to determine responsibility for the disgrace. I agreed with Blinken on this point before he started hedging. Senator Risch’s clip of his questioning on this point is below.
Senator Rubio discreetly implied that the administration’s surprise at the events as they unfolded in Afghanistan failed to comport with the intelligence.
Senator Romney questioned the theme that the administration’s had its hands tied by President Trump.
Senator Paul asked Blinken about the drone strike that was to have taken out an ISIS terrorist but may instead have taken out an Afghan friendly and his family. Blinken is going to have to circle back on that one.
Senator Cruz was in his accustomed form. I disagreed with Senator Cruz’s implication that the entire responsibility for the fiasco rests with Blinken (“Just like Jimmy Carter owns the Iran hostage crisis, you own this”). I think the responsibility rests principally with President Biden and is widely shared among the senior officials of his administration. Blinken is a co-owner.
Senator Barasso took up the administration’s claim that our evacuation from Afghanistan was an extraordinary success. “This has to be the lie of the twenty-first century.”
I have posted the State Department video of the entire hearing below. It begins at about 30:00.