NORMAL — Central Illinois U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis thinks President Joe Biden’s decision to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan was a political move that backfired.
The Taylorville Republican said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas the Biden administration could have “kept the peace” and prevented a Taliban takeover by maintaining a small, open-ended military footprint.
“To avoid what we are witnessing right now and images that are sickening, I think the American people would have been OK with that since they’ve been OK for decades (with troops) in South Korea and Japan and even in Germany,” Davis said. “Why in the world would we treat Afghanistan differently?”
More than 6,000 American troops and U.S. contractors have been killed in Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Davis noted no American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since February 2020.
Former president Donald Trump signed a deal with the Taliban on Feb. 29, 2020 that promised to pull all U.S. troops out by May 1, 2021. Biden later pushed back that timeline by a few months.
Davis said the Biden Administration’s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan “failed miserably” as the Taliban toppled the U.S.-backed government within weeks. He called it “ironic” that the U.S. has sent thousands of troops back into Afghanistan to secure the airport and help get Americans out of the country, along with the Afghan people who have helped the U.S.
Davis, whose 13th Congressional District includes parts of Bloomington-Normal, said Afghanistan fell to the Taliban so quickly because the Afghan military lost its resolve when U.S. troops left.
“When the military relies upon American air cover and American air cover is taken away by the botched execution of this withdrawal coming directly from the Biden administration, what do you expect them to do?” Davis asked.
Davis also called it “heartbreaking” that girls may not be able to go to school and women may be oppressed as they were under previous Taliban rule. He doesn’t buy claims from the Taliban that they will give rights to women.
“I think Baghdad Bob probably has more credibility than the Taliban right now,” Davis quipped.
On another topic, Davis said he doesn’t think House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will call the U.S. Senate-approved $1 trillion infrastructure bill to a vote as a standalone measure.
Davis said he expects the Democratic speaker will give in to pressure from progressives to pair the infrastructure plan with a much larger bill that funds Democratic priorities, including health care, childcare and fighting climate change.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how Speaker Pelosi tries to run this, and she has a history in the last Congress and this Congress of really forcing some of these more moderate members into taking some very bad votes,” Davis said.
Davis said he’ll have to see the final version of the infrastructure bill before he decides how he’ll vote. He said the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion spending bill won’t stand a chance among Republicans and possibly some moderate Democrats.
“It’s hard for me to have that packaged with a $3.5 trillion liberal wish list and tax increase. I don’t see how you get any Republican support if those things are packaged together,” Davis said.
Senate Democrats are trying to shore up support within their party to pass the measure with no Republican support. If Democrats back the bill in unison, they may use a simple majority (with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris) to thwart a Republican attempt to filibuster the bill through a process known as budget reconciliation.