Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) to the newsmaker line to discuss the spontaneous and reckless withdrawal out of Afghanistan by the Biden administration and his number one focus right now.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by our friend Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee. Good morning, Senator Hagerty.
Hagerty: Good morning. Great to be with you.
Leahy: Well, The Wall Street Journal reported that you called President Biden’s speech yesterday afternoon, “dishonest” tweeting, that the president was, “avoiding all responsibility for having no plan for the chaos.”
What more do you have to say about that 20 minutes, I don’t know what you call it. A speech, a self-justification. What more do you have to tell us about that?
Hagerty: I think it’s just awful to see Biden stand there and do everything you can to deflect. To try to spin this, to act as though he takes no responsibility for this. This is a situation where he’s got to step up and own it. I was the US ambassador to Japan.
You know that Michael, before my current job. I had what is known as the chief of mission authority and responsibility for every American life there. They’re over a quarter of a million Americans there.
He needs to be focused on taking care of the Americans in Afghanistan right now. He needs to acknowledge that this was a failure and execution of incredible proportion.
And they need to be doubling down on getting this problem resolved rather than deflecting and hiding out. And the thought that he takes days to come in and do an address and then flies back out without taking questions, it’s just incredible.
Leahy: As ambassador to Japan under President Trump, you knew and saw firsthand the danger posed by the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government. In your view, right now, here’s what I think.
I think right now Xi Jinping has a map out, and he’s got a circle drawn around Taiwan, and I think he’s looking at when do we invade Taiwan? Do you think it’s more or less likely now with the weakness shown by Biden that China will be aggressively trying to take back Taiwan?
Hagerty: I think the actions that the Biden administration has undertaken if we invest significantly in the lines of foes as well as our allies. And I can tell you, our allies are deeply concerned as well.
They’ve got skin in the game on the ground in Afghanistan right now. German nationals are there and they’re going to have to come back in with their military. This has been an incredible failure of leadership.
And as you say, countries like China don’t have our best interest in us or that in our allies. We’re looking at this very closely and they see a resolution on behalf of America, which I think is what we’re witnessing right now, that’s a vulnerability. (Inaudible talk)
Leahy: Let me ask you this question. Several members of Congress have come out. Jeff Van Drew from New Jersey, Andy Biggs from Arizona. Jody Heis from Georgia, Harshberger from Tennessee have come out and said Joe Biden should resign.
In fact, Van Drew said, this is such a debacle, Biden, Vice President Harris, and Nancy Pelosi should resign. Do you think Joe Biden should resign as president of the United States?
Hagerty: President Trump came out and said it yesterday as well. The thing I point you to is the next in line, Vice President Harris might even be worse. If you take a look at what she’s done at the border, that’s been a complete disaster, too.
We really don’t have good choices right now. So this is a situation we should never find ourselves in it.
Leahy: But we find ourselves in it. And the United States’ authority and prestige around the world is in rapid decline after just seven months of the Biden administration.
Can we survive as a constitutional Republic in the international arena over the next three years and five months under the leadership of the Biden administration?
Hagerty: My focus right now is on 2022, and we’ve got to take back the House and the Senate that will have a material impact on this. And then turn our attention right away to 2024. But as you say, over the past seven months, it’s been failure after failure.
The border crisis was immediate. Coming in and destroying our energy independence by killing the Keystone XL pipeline. Drilling on federal lands. Of course, that raises our energy prices here in America.
And all that oil gets piped to China. Again, they’re laughing all the way to the bank there in China. Then you look at what’s happened with Russia. He immediately goes into the Start Treaty and extends it and gets nothing for us.
The Nordstream Two. I mean, this is unbelievable. In Iran, who knows what they’re negotiating in back rooms in Vienna right now, selling our nation’s best interest down the highway for goals that are unachievable.
And allies like Israel, to let the messages coming from the far left to the Democrat Party, it would make people think we’re siding with the terrorists. And that is all part and parcel of this administration. Again, you say in seven months, one disaster after the other.
Leahy: In your opinion, would you say that President Biden’s dereliction of duty with regards to the handling of Afghanistan, is that an impeachable offense?
Leahy: I can tell you what would have been said, had President Trump been in office. Nancy Pelosi would have been drawing up the articles of impeachment. This is something right now that I want to focus on resolving the immediate situation.
There’s plenty of responsibilities to share with Biden and his entire cabinet. We should turn our attention to that as well. But I think right now we’ve got to focus on getting American lives secure there.
Getting American interests secure. And not allowing Afghanistan to again devolve into a hotbed of terrorism that will threaten not only the region but all over the world.
Leahy: How many Americans are currently stranded in Afghanistan?
Hagerty: It’s a hard number to put your hat on. I was again, as ambassador to Japan, we had plans to do what they call non-combatant evacuation operations. NEO. That’s what needs to be undertaken right now. They’ve got to assess how many Americans are there.
I’ve seen reports ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 and many of these are people with dual citizenship. But what you find out in a NEO operation is that there are many more people that may not have been known to the embassy and that may be there for other reasons that will emerge.
So those may be conservative numbers. I saw counts yesterday of up to 10,000 German nationals and 4,000 British nationals. Again, these are our allies that we also have obligations to work together to get them out.
And then you’ve got local Afghans who have worked for the embassy, who have helped our military, and who served as translators. We’ve all heard about them as well. The numbers in total that that are being pushed around right now are in the range of 60 to 80,000 people that need to be evacuated. And again, I’ll come back and say that’s probably a conservative number.
Leahy: How many American troops are on the ground today at this moment, as we speak, trying to get those 60,000 Americans and other allies out of Afghanistan?
Hagerty: I don’t have an immediate account for that, but I know that the number is scaling up. And we’ve heard the estimates go from 4,000 to 6,000 to 7,000. And it’s not just going to be the American military there.
It’s going to be the German military. It’s going to be the Brits. Everyone’s going to have to scale up to go in and get their people out and just secure the situation.
Leahy: Is this a failure of our woke generals who know how to be politically correct, but don’t how to fight wars anymore?
Hagerty: I’ve got to say this, the American military is the most competent in the world. I have the utmost respect for them. But this is a situation where we didn’t have a plan in place. And I think that the Biden administration’s response has been to everything done by the previous administration, let’s throw it out the window.
Let’s do the opposite. And I know that Secretary Mike Pompeo was working very hard with President Trump to put together a plan that would have been a condition-based plan for withdrawal.
It looked like the Biden demonstration had no conditions. They just pulled the plug and walked. They were focused more on a press release that said that they were going to celebrate the anniversary of 9-11 by having all of our troops withdrawn.
But they didn’t put in place to plan to get that done effectively. And what we’re seeing here is a tactical failure of epic proportions.
Leahy: Well, regardless of whether President Biden gave the wrong instructions to the military, this looks to me like just terrible incompetence by both the American military and by the commander in chief.
Our allies and our enemies are taking note. What do you think is going to happen to fix this over the next several days?
Hagerty: The plan is to go back in again with a much larger number of troops than we initially had in place. And as they always said, you’ve heard this said by your mom or your grandmom. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
Well, this kind of cure that’s coming in is going to be very painful. We’re putting American lives at risk in a much more dangerous situation. This is going to be costly. It’s going to cost lives, perhaps. And it’s going to require our allies to step up and do the same thing.
Leahy: Was there anything in president by speech yesterday that gives you any indication that he intends to follow through on just what you’ve described?
Hagerty: I have a hard time ascribing anything ascertainable to what President Biden said yesterday. I think the purpose of yesterday was to spin and deflect for the domestic audience. He’s got our national allies up in arms over the callous and reckless way he handled his press conference yesterday.
And I am hopeful that our military planners are working overtime. Triple time. I know they are trying to come up with a plan to get this resolved. But they should have been anticipating this in the first place.
Letting our airbase go? That’s something I’ve been concerned about from the very beginning. And this is showing the incredible weakness that this presents for us because we had a secure airbase there.
That airbase had housing for 5,000 prisoners. All the prisoners that were there, Al Qaeda and ISIS, have been let go. The Taliban now control that base.
That would have been a hugely helpful component of this mission to get Americans and our allies out. That’s now been lost. We have just a mistake after mistake that’s occurred here.
Leahy: Senator Bill Hagerty, thank you so much for joining us, and keep up the good work there in Washington, D.C., fighting against the Biden administration.
Hagerty: Thank you.
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