‘Devastating’: Murkowski saddened by Afghanistan withdrawal

A woman speaking at a podium
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in August, 2020. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the United States military shouldn’t stay in Afghanistan forever, but she called the result of the withdrawal “just devastating.”

As the Taliban takes control again, Murkowski said she’s thinking about the gains lost and the many American soldiers killed in that country over the past two decades.

“Now looking at these things play out on TV, and perhaps questioning why, whether their sacrifice was worth it,” she told reporters on Monday. “This is devastating for us to be in this position.”

Murkowski did not specifically blame President Biden, though she said she was concerned when he announced this spring that troops would be gone by Sept. 11. She expects to eventually see a review of the decision-making timeline and the intelligence reports to identify what went wrong.

“I think the task for us now is to try to get as many out as safely and as quickly as we possibly, possibly can,” she said. “And then I think there’s going to be a lot of review about how we came to be at this place at this moment.”

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan declined an interview request on Monday. He issued a written statement saying Biden “botched” the execution of the withdrawal plan. If the Taliban flag is flying over the U.S. Embassy building in Kabul on Sept. 11, “Joe Biden will be solely responsible for that sickening and dispiriting image,” said Sullivan’s statement.

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Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Alaska Public Media. She reports from the U.S. Capitol and from Anchorage. Reach her at lruskin@alaskapublic.org.

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