Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) discussed his concerns with President Donald Trump’s canceled meeting with Taliban leaders.
Partial transcript as follows:
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Obama administration tried to negotiate with the Taliban.
BRENNAN: They never got this far.
BRENNAN: Why do you have a problem with the Trump administration doing it?
COONS: I don’t have a problem with the Trump administration trying to resolve our very long conflict in Afghanistan through direct negotiations with the Taliban. And I agree that we should not fully withdraw from Afghanistan until we’ve got conditions on the ground that will prevent it from becoming once again a haven for terrorists who might attack us, as happened on 9/11. But I disagree with how our president goes about his negotiations around the world. He seems to think that he and he alone individually can negotiate with Kim Jong Un in North Korea, with Xi Jinping in China, or in this case with the Taliban. We don’t even have an ambassador in Pakistan or in Jordan.
I’m concerned that our president isn’t listening to his generals, to his diplomats, to the intelligence community. Frankly, that’s largely why General Mattis, for whom I have huge respect, resigned in protest- was our president’s tendency to make abrupt decisions without knowing the context or the region, and without relying on the advice of the skilled diplomats and generals we have.
BRENNAN: Senator Lindsey Graham was on this program recently raised a concern that the president wasn’t listening to his national security advisers in Afghanistan. Do you think Congress needs to put some kind of backstop in place to keep the troop number at a certain level like he’s trying to do?
COONS: I do think that we need to be engaged in a bipartisan way in making it clear why we value sustained engagement in the world to prevent terrorism from coming to our shores again. This frankly is also why I believe Joe Biden would be our best next president, is I think he has deep and wide experience in foreign policy and understands the values of our alliances.
BRENNAN: You’re a Biden surrogate.
COONS: I am a Biden supporter.
BRENNAN: Do you know what his plan is to draw down troops or to negotiate a end to the war?
COONS: I can’t speak to the specifics of how he would, but I know that unlike our current president he would rely upon and listen to the advice of generals and diplomats. I also think that he’s learned from his experience. He has spent decades in foreign service, as has General Mattis, as both a senator and a vice president. Look, history moves and if you don’t learn from history you can’t shape it. One of the things I most respect about General Mattis is how deeply read he is in history. One of my concerns about our current president is- is his shallow understanding of recent history.
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