Republican lawmaker who served in Afghanistan says it’s ‘likely’ US will have to return

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Congressman Adam Kinzinger talks to reporters in the Capitol. (Getty Images)
Congressman Adam Kinzinger talks to reporters in the Capitol. (Getty Images)

A GOP lawmaker who flew missions over Iraq and Afghanistan has issued a dire prediction when asked about President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of US combat troops from the region.

Rep Adam Kinzinger, who in recent months distinguished himself as one of just a handful of Republicans to support the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, made the remarks on Sunday during an interview with NBC’s Meet The Press.

"I do think it’s quite likely we’re going to have to either ... when we return to Afghanistan because, you know, of the existential threat to us or our allies ... re-occupy Bagram or we may have to bomb it if there’s some kind of an air mission," Mr Kinzinger said, referring to the Bagram Air Base, which formerly was the main US air base in the country before forces withdrew from it in recent days, in the middle of the night reportedly without telling Afghan commanders or dealing with the remaining militants in the base’s prison.

The continued US presence, he argued, was “really a small price to pay for frankly holding off the inevitable bad that unfortunately we’re going to see”.

Asked by host Chuck Todd about an article in The Economist that declared the US withdrawal a “crushing defeat” for America after nearly 20 years of war, Mr Kinzinger said he agreed with the assessment.

"No, I agree. It’s a crushing defeat. You know, the Taliban always had a saying. They said, ‘The US – America has the watches, but we have the time,’” Mr Kinzinger responded.

“You know, I’m proud of the American people for sticking by this mission for 20 years. We actually needed to do it longer,” he continued.

Mr Kinzinger’s comments are some of the most pessimistic about the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in September. Mr Biden himself has stressed in interviews that the move was necessary, arguing that there were no guarantees of the US achieving a better outcome by remaining.

The withdrawal of troops was actually directed by the Trump administration last year, and originally set to conclude by May of this year.

The US’ longest-running war led to the death of more than 2,300 US service-members as well as the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghan citizens and the displacement of millions more.

Concerns are now rising surrounding whether the Taliban will be successful in retaking all or parts of its former territory, a move that would largely erase the gains made by coalition forces over the past two decades.

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