Rep. Dan Crenshaw said Tuesday that the Biden administration “should laugh at” Taliban threats regarding any extension of the U.S. airlift operation in Afghanistan, insisting that the military should reject any timetable imposed by the Islamist militant group.
“We need to send a very clear message to the Taliban: We’re not negotiating about our deadline,” the Texas Republican, a former Navy SEAL who served in Afghanistan, said in a POLITICO Playbook virtual interview. “That should be the message. We should laugh at them when they say, ‘Oh well that’s a red line for us [and] you need to be out by August 31.’ No. And if you get in our way when we are extracting Americans, we will kill you. That is the only message that Biden should be delivering to the Taliban.”
Crenshaw’s comments followed recent remarks from a Taliban spokesperson, who warned that there would be “consequences” if the U.S. did not adhere to President Joe Biden’s self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline to complete the evacuation of Americans and U.S. allies from Afghanistan. While Biden had previously suggested he could extend the deadline to pull troops out of Afghanistan if needed, he indicated on Tuesday that he will stick to the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline following a Pentagon recommendation, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Crenshaw has been a harsh critic of America’s withdrawal from the country. The Texas congressman has argued that keeping a small presence is necessary for stability in the region, and that American troops should try to retake airbases in the country.
Crenshaw also pushed back on baseless claims that have circulated from conservative commentators that Biden intentionally let Afghanistan fall to bring refugees into the country.
“When you hear an argument [that Afghanistan] was purposefully bungled just for the sake of bringing refugees home, I just kind of ignore these things,” he said. “That’s probably the right reaction to them… because it is a bit paranoid and it’s a bit silly, it’s a bit conspiratorial.”