Blackburn: Colin Kahl is Good at Being Wrong

April 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn released a video message laying out why Colin Kahl is a poor choice for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

Remarks as Prepared


Here we are again, teeing up another discharge motion for another unqualified Biden administration nominee.

If there’s one good thing I can say about Colin Kahl, the nominee for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, it’s that you never have to wonder where he stands on the issues. He’s very consistent.

Unfortunately, he’s been consistently wrong on some of the last decade’s most important foreign policy questions.

In 2019, when disaster struck all along on our southern border, he labeled the situation “Trump’s fake border crisis” and “a phony terrorism threat.” That’s a take that aged well, to be sure.

His judgment calls on the actions and motivations of our most dangerous adversaries have also been particularly terrible.

When President Trump warned the Iranian regime not to resume their nuclear activities, Kahl declared that “war drums” were already sounding. We know that wasn’t true.

When President Trump made the decision to eliminate terrorist leader Soleimani, Kahl was positive that the strike had started a war. It hadn’t. When I questioned Kahl during his confirmation hearings, he equated Iranian proxies killing Americans with our subsequent, proportionate strike against Solemani, saying, “there were provocations on both sides.” Indeed.

Kahl was absolutely sure that given the chance, John Bolton, of all people, would twist available intelligence and singlehandedly start wars with Iran and North Korea. Another miss.

He also predicted that Trump would jump into Syria and start a war with Assad and the Russians, which also didn’t happen.

Those hot takes earned him a lot of ink in Foreign Policy magazine, but not a lot of respect. I don’t know if he wrote those things because he wanted to put President Trump in the hot seat, or because he honestly believed them. But I don’t think the answer to that question matters.

If he believed them, then it’s proof of his terrible judgment.

If he wrote them to inflame the progressive base, it’s proof he’s willing to trivialize the prospect of armed conflict for clicks.

How in the world can President Biden expect us to vote for that?

In addition to his poor judgment, Mr. Kahl has also attached himself to truly terrible policy decisions.

He opposed bipartisan legislation that would have imposed sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

He staffed the effort to condemn Israel at the United Nations Security Council.

He’s “open” to moving away from the Nuclear Triad.

And perhaps worst of all, when he served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, he dropped the ball on a “Status of Forces Agreement” that would have allowed U.S. forces to remain in Iraq.

That failure led to the rise of ISIS.

I have examined Mr. Kahl’s record, and found nothing but a history of bad policy judgment, a volatile disposition, and a terrible temper that manifests in inflammatory rhetoric.

That might be a great resume for a pundit, but it’s not the body of work I want to see from someone who will be responsible for developing national security and defense strategy.

I oppose this discharge motion, I oppose this nomination, and I urge my colleagues to spend a few minutes with Mr. Kahl’s resume before placing him in such a powerful position at DoD.