Rand Paul: Afghanistan an ‘indictment’ of nation-building, ‘learn not to do it again’

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said during an interview on Fox News that part of the problem with the Afghanistan withdrawal is that the U.S. stayed too long, claiming that nation-building doesn’t work.

“You know I think it’s hard to imagine a more incompetent withdrawal, you know with the Biden administration I think totally screwing up the withdrawal. But I think there’s a lot of blame to go around to both parties. I think the important lesson to get here is not that we left too soon, that we stayed too long,” Paul said when asked about his thoughts on the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Paul went on to say the United States attempting to do nation-building doesn’t work and the Afghans “expect us to come back and do the fighting for them.”

“So I do have a different take on this. I think the take is that nation-building doesn’t work. Hundreds of billions of dollars and they[the Afghan army] fought for less than a week?” Paul said. “So I think we should have been gone ten years ago, fifteen years ago. And that really we should disrupt threats to attack us but we shouldn’t go around the world trying to create nations out of whole cloth,” he continued.

Paul said it was “despicable” that America was encouraging some of the best in Afghanistan to leave the country.

“Afghanistan’s never been a nation, it’s a collection of tribes. They were killing each other before we got there and they’ll kill each other after we’re gone. But it’s kind of despicable to sort of encourage them all to flee the country and not to fight,” Paul said.

“See a month ago, people in our congress were saying we need to take 70,000 of them. Well if 70,000 of the best people, who speak English, and like the west leave, what does that leave over there? It leaves the Taliban,” he continued.

Paul compared the Taliban take over of the Presidential palace in Kabul to the burning of the American White House in 1812.

“It be sort of like after 1812 James Madison saying, ‘Well maybe we should just go to France, they burned our White House, maybe we should go to France?’ No, where are the Afghan fighters? When people say all their fighters, I see a bunch of people laying down their arms and giving their uniforms and giving their weapons,” he said.

Host Bill Hemmer then pushed back on Paul saying, “I understand the sentiment you’re relaying to us now. But all that stuff in a vacuum sounds pretty good if you go back in time 10 years ago. You’re dealing with a different reality now”

Paul said the Afghan’s had years to prepare for the U.S. withdrawal as it has been discussed for years.

“They’ve had plenty of time to prepare for this. This didn’t come along precipitously,” Paul said. “We’ve been talking about leaving for years now. We’ve been turning over more and more responsibility to the Afghan army. They’ve had years to patrol the cities and yet they did not fight. When push came to shove they laid down their arms and ran.”

Hemmer then asks Paul if he is “okay with the decisions that President Biden has made then?”

“I think Biden did a terrible job in the withdrawal,” Paul said. “I don’t think it was executed very well at all. But we did need to leave and that has been a consensus for a decade or more to leave.”

Paul asserted that the issue isn’t in leaving, its that the U.S. stayed too long.

“The problem is that we stayed too long so the longer we stayed the more the expectations were. But the more complacent the Afghans grew as we fought their battles year after year. We fought their battles.”

Paul again used the War of 1812 comparison.

“Instead of James Madison or Monroe rallying the troops in 1812, the guy[President Ashraf Ghani] got on a plane and flew out immediately and left the country and all his soldiers laid down their arms,” Paul said.

“But we were encouraging this two months ago when we were encouraging the best and brightest people in Afghanistan to leave,” he continued. “We were encouraging that it was inevitable two months ago when everybody in congress was saying ‘Oh it’s going to be a debacle we must have all the good people in Afghanistan leave,'” he continued.

Paul claimed that the U.S. should have rallied them to fight rather than encouraging them to flee. “We’ve been working with them for 20 years and they chose not to fight for their country.”

Hemmer makes the point that President Biden changed multiple Trump-era policies including the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran Nuclear Deal but not the Afghanistan withdrawal.

‘I think the organization of the withdrawal was completely inept and incompetent and we would have been much better to check American lives on the way out,” Paul said before laying blame on the intelligence community for failing to determine the Afghan army wasn’t willing to fight.

“Its a complete failure of our intelligence community not to realize that the Afghan army wasn’t equipped to fight,” Paul said. “But how demoralizing is it to those who are for nation-building that after 20 years and all the weapons, all the training that they still chose not to fight?”

“They had 300,000 supposedly between the police and the army and 300,000 melted away between 20 to 25,000 fighters? There are probably not more than 10,000 Taliban in any one place. And they all just threw down their arms? This is an indictment of nation-building and we should learn not to do it again,” Paul concluded.