Pentagon spokesman responds to Afghan pullout criticisms
Rear Adm. John Kirby joins ‘Your World’
“Your World” host Neil Cavuto on Wednesday pressed the Pentagon press secretary on the potential resurgence of the Taliban as President Biden closes in on his goal of pulling all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by September 11.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, Ret., said the Pentagon is indeed concerned about Afghanistan but added that the “security situation” proves the need for a successful peace settlement negotiation to end the now 20-year war.
“We said for a long time [that] a military solution is not in the best interest of the Afghan people or the region. We’re still pushing and still believe in the security situation argues for a peaceful negotiated solution here,” said Kirby, who previously served in the State Department under President Barack Obama.
Cavuto replied that the Taliban doesn’t appear to be as earnest in seeking such a solution.
“The Taliban doesn’t want a peaceful negotiation and they might have been in talks before in keeping things calm because our troops were there. Do you think all of this is happening because they’re not, and soon none of them will be there?” the host asked.
Kirby reiterated that a “full-on Taliban military solution” is not in the best interest of the United States or any other party.
“From a military perspective, our focus is completing the drawdown that we began in April under the president’s order… and making sure that as we do that, we transition to a new relationship with Afghan forces and Afghan people so they can continue to defend their country and their territory,” he said.
In response, Cavuto asked whether a Taliban resurgence could deem the two-decade war there a “waste.”
Kirby said he would not offer speculation or hypotheticals but again pressed for a diplomatic instead of militaristic solution to the conflict.
He added that command of remaining forces in Afghanistan will be transitioned to Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., who is the current head of CENTCOM.
McKenzie will then also be given the same authority as U.S. Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the general in charge of the NATO-led advise-and-assist mission in Afghanistan, Kirby told Fox News.
Miller himself has reprimanded the Taliban, calling on them to “reduce their violence across the country,” according to Stripes, which also reported he previously urged patience on the part of then-President Donald Trump as he, too, urged a troop drawdown.
“Those authorities right now permit for the United States to come to the assistance of Afghan national security forces. That is a case-by-case situation,” said Kirby.
“Should the Taliban have governing aspirations — if they want to be represented in the national community — they have to behave in that manner. There’s international community pressure that can be brought to bear.”
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