Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday that while he does understand the importance of pulling troops out of Afghanistan, he's concerned about whether the government there is strong enough to stop the resurgence of Al Qaeda, which will, in turn, pose new threats to the United States.
"I wish the situation in Afghanistan was different," said the Florida Republican on Fox News' "Fox and Friends." "I wish there was an Afghan government that was strong and a Taliban that was headed towards defeat. That's not the trend this is taking."
The Trump administration last year declared that on May 1, troops were to be pulled out of Afghanistan, he said, and once that was set in play, the drawdown was inevitable, said Rubio. President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a plan to have all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.
But, Rubio said that it will be "tragic" what will happen in Afghanistan once U.S. troops are removed.
"I believe the Taliban is going to take over that country or large portions of it," he said. "It's going to be terrible."
Afghan women or girls who have been going to school will suffer, he added, as will people who have been working with the United States to go after the Taliban.
"On top of that, what I'm really concerned about is for America," said the senator. "Al Qaeda will reconstitute in Afghanistan and find a safe haven. Only sustained pressure was what kept these groups from attacking us again in our homeland. We must plan to sustain pressure on Al Qaeda, or we face the same threat we faced on Sept. 11, 2001, at some point in the future, and that is unacceptable."
But still there comes a point where military engagement must end, as "we can't be there forever," he continued. "I'm concerned about what happens if Al Qaeda comes back in."
Rubio also commented on a Democrat bill that seeks to add four seats to the Supreme Court.
"They have been wanting to do this for a long time," he said. "There was no problem with the court until a Republican president was elected and started appointing people to vacancies ... now that there are conservative judges interpreting the Constitution the way it was written on the bench, they have a crisis in the courts that needs to be looked at."
The move to pack the court, he added, is a "pure political ploy" and "hardball politics."
Rubio's comments come as Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Thursday to sell Afghan leaders and the public on Biden's decision, which will end America's longest-running war.
NATO has also said its approximately 7,000 non-American forces in Afghanistan will also be pulling out in a few months, bringing an end to foreign military presence in the country that has remained there for decades.
Blinken told Afghan leaders Thursday that the troop withdrawal will not mean an end to the United States' relationship with the Middle Eastern nation.
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