Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is urging President Joe Biden to explain after his top military advisers revealed in a hearing that they recommended him to keep some U.S. troops present in Afghanistan, contradicting what he said.
“I think we heard from our generals about what transpired. The person we need to hear from is the president of the United States,” Haley said during her interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, and Secretary of the Department of Defense Lloyd Austin testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about U.S. troops’ ineffective handling from Afghanistan.
The Senate testimony is intended to clarify whether or not Biden was advised to stick with his hard withdrawal timeline.
According to Mediaite, Gen. McKenzie told the Congress members that he had advised the president to leave some thousands of troops in Afghanistan.
“I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, and I also recommended earlier in the fall of 2020 that we maintain 4,500 at that time. Those are my personal views. I also [had] a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government,” McKenzie said in response to a query from Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
That remark contradicts what Biden said in an interview with ABC News last month: his top military advisers did not warn him against pulling out of Afghanistan.
During that interview, host George Stephanopoulos asked Biden, “Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.”
“No, they didn’t! It was split,” Biden said. “That wasn’t true.”
When Stephanopoulos repeated, “So no one told — your military advisors did not tell you, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that’?”
“No,” Biden replied. “No one said that to me that I can recall.”
According to Nikki Haley, the Senate hearing produced more questions than answers from the Biden administration.
“This even caused more questions I think for President Biden, which are: You said none of your military said anything to you about keeping forces on the ground, about keeping Bagram Air Base … you said you couldn’t recall it. Well, clearly your generals said they did tell you.”
“So, we need an answer [from Biden]. We need the truth on that because you already lied once on that. Then you said that the Afghan military could stand on their own. The generals countered that again and told him the risk he was taking by doing that. That is not the case,” Haley said.
The former diplomat also raised the question about Biden’s assessment that al-Qaida was gone from Afghanistan, but the three top military officials disagreed.
“All of the generals said al-Qaida is very much in Afghanistan, and oh, by the way, when the Taliban took over, they let out all of those al-Qaida prisoners that are now throughout Afghanistan,” Haley said. “There’s so many questions.
“[Biden] said that they wouldn’t leave any Americans behind. [He] left Americans behind. So I think we heard some hard truths from the generals,” Haley said, Newsmax reported, citing her interview with Fox News.
Haley also criticized Gen. Milley, who admitted at the hearing that he had spoken to several authors who wrote books about the Trump administration and the 2020 election. She described the general’s actions as “the most unprofessional thing.”
“Even as a cabinet member, you don’t talk to someone writing a book— you don’t talk to journalists about books or any of that. That is political,” the former ambassador said.
“But in the military? They’re so conscious about not politicizing what they do,” she continued. “You have to be careful about when journalists you talk to, what you say. I can’t imagine that General Milley didn’t know that. I have to think he has a lot of regrets right now.”