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World Republicans blame Biden for the US's chaotic withdrawal but are glossing over how Trump's Taliban deal set up the disaster

10:55  19 september  2021
10:55  19 september  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com

How Kabul became an evacuation bottleneck and a prime terror target: The Last 96

  How Kabul became an evacuation bottleneck and a prime terror target: The Last 96 How did Kabul fall to the Taliban so quickly, and why was it the only practical way out of Afghanistan?America’s war in Afghanistan ended in calamity. Around 120,000 people were evacuated from Kabul in just a matter of days, but the herculean, if chaotic effort made the airport a prime target for a terrorist attack that killed nearly 200, including 13 U.S. service members.

Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File © AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
  • A number of GOP lawmakers slammed Biden's handling of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • McConnell said Biden was to blame for Taliban forces taking over the country.
  • The deal to remove US troops from the country was negotiated under Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A number of congressional Republicans are criticizing President Joe Biden's handling of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan amid desperate scenes of Afghans scrambling to get on airplanes out of the country.

Russia Gloats That its Government Lasted Longer in Afghanistan Than U.S. 'Regime'

  Russia Gloats That its Government Lasted Longer in Afghanistan Than U.S. 'Regime' "The regime created by the Americans tumbled down even before they left. That's a principal difference," said Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan.Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan, said that he and other Russians didn't anticipate such a quick collapse.

Yet the decision to leave the country was originally negotiated under President Donald Trump and allowed the Taliban to strengthen their position against the US-backed government - a circumstance most Republicans skirted around in their criticism.

After Taliban forces took control of Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, over the weekend, GOP lawmakers effectively said that the Biden administration was solely to blame for the collapse of the Afghan government.

"The Biden Administration's botched exit from Afghanistan including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Sunday.

Opinion: A kinder, gentler Taliban?

  Opinion: A kinder, gentler Taliban? The Taliban is promising peace and an amnesty, but it's instructive to look at what they did when they took control in Kabul in 1996, writes Peter Bergen. The Taliban imposed their ultra-purist vision of Islam on much of the country. Women had to wear the burqa and stay at home unless accompanied by a male relative. Music, television and even kite flying were banned. There was no independent Afghan media; only Radio Shariat that blared Taliban propaganda.In an unsettling echo of how the Nazis treated the Jews, the Taliban forced the country's miniscule Hindu population to wear distinctive clothing.

While the highest-ranked Republican senator pointed out that both Republican and Democratic administrations over the past several years had overseen foreign-policy failures in Afghanistan, he placed the brunt of the current situation on Biden.

"I have never hesitated to express myself candidly when leaders of either party threatened to put politics ahead of reality on the ground," McConnell said. "But as the monumental collapse our own experts predicted unfolds in Kabul today, responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of our current Commander-in-Chief."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has long opposed a full military withdrawal from Afghanistan, also faulted Biden for the crisis in the country.

"It is only a matter of time until al-Qaeda reemerges in Afghanistan and presents a threat to the American homeland and western world," Graham said in a tweet. "President Biden seems oblivious to the terrorist threats that will come from a Taliban-run Afghanistan"

Who are the Taliban: The history — and present — of the group taking over Afghanistan

  Who are the Taliban: The history — and present — of the group taking over Afghanistan "When it comes to experience, maturity, vision, there is a huge difference between us in comparison to 20 years ago," a Taliban spokesman said.“Our nation is a Muslim nation, whether 20 years ago or now," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in his first news conference after the militants took control of the country on Tuesday, according to a translation by Al Jazeera. "But when it comes to experience, maturity, vision, there is a huge difference between us in comparison to 20 years ago.

Similarly, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned the president and said he did not carry out Trump's strategy.

"President Biden owns this mess - the blood is on his hands," Inhofe said in a statement on Sunday. "President Biden did not inherit the current withdrawal from President Trump - in fact, he has deviated from the previous administration's plan and set his own disastrous course."

He added: "Biden needs to admit he made a strategic mistake leading to tragic consequences for U.S. national security and the Afghan people."

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Joe Biden on August 12. Associated Press/Evan Vucci © Associated Press/Evan Vucci President Joe Biden on August 12. Associated Press/Evan Vucci

Some GOP lawmakers also criticized Biden, who had been on planned vacation at the presidential retreat Camp David, for staying silent on the issue as the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Sunday.


Video: Biden says Afghanistan collapse justifies withdrawal (CNBC)

"The American people deserve to hear immediately from their commander-in-chief and to know who's in charge," Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas wrote on Twitter.

Overnight Defense: US scrambles to get Americans out of Kabul

  Overnight Defense: US scrambles to get Americans out of Kabul It's Tuesday, welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Ellen Mitchell, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.THE TOPLINE: The Biden administration for a second day in a row on Tuesday sought to swat away criticism of its botched withdrawal from Afghanistan as the U.S. military worked to ramp up evacuation flights out of Kabul.After a chaoticTHE TOPLINE: The Biden administration for a second day in a row on Tuesday sought to swat away criticism of its botched withdrawal from Afghanistan as the U.S. military worked to ramp up evacuation flights out of Kabul.

As the backlash mounted, Biden on Monday afternoon defended his decision to pull out at the White House.

A blame game

While the Biden administration executed the US withdrawal, it was the Trump administration that brokered a deal with the Taliban to pull out US troops. The agreement, signed in February 2020, stipulated that US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan within 14 months. The deal was much criticized for acceding to the Taliban demand of not including the Afghan government. At the time, the Taliban already controlled nearly half the country.

Biden largely upheld the Trump-era deal, though he didn't follow that exact timeline. Many observers said the US's agreement in principle to depart cost it leverage it could have used to compel the Taliban to adhere to the peace deal and a cessation of hostilities.

After the negotiations, Trump began slimming down the US's presence. By mid-January, there were only about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. To put this into perspective, there were more US troops deployed to Washington, DC, as a result of the January 6 insurrection than the number deployed in Afghanistan.

An Afghan special-forces officer told The Washington Post that Trump's withdrawal deal demoralized Afghan troops and made them feel as though a Taliban takeover was inevitable.

Taliban promise to uphold rights for women and US allies, but White House is skeptical

  Taliban promise to uphold rights for women and US allies, but White House is skeptical The Taliban said they won't hurt women. U.S. military commanders work with the militant group to allow Americans and some Afghans to evacuate.Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, women virtually had no rights under the fundamentalist Taliban's oppressive rule. Most were forced to quit their jobs and stay at home, denied access to education and health care, enduring high rates of illiteracy and maternal mortality.

"The day the deal was signed we saw the change. Everyone was just looking out for himself," the officer said.

Trump on Sunday criticized Biden over the Afghanistan withdrawal, saying that the president didn't follow the plan he crafted. But outside the original timeline, in which US troops would've fully pulled out in May, Biden hardly diverged from Trump's peace agreement.

Biden in a statement on Saturday placed blame on Trump for the chaos in Afghanistan, saying that he'd inherited a deal that "left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001."

From Bush to Biden, US presidents failed in Afghanistan

There is ample evidence that the US withdrawal has been rushed and sloppy, particularly when it comes to helping vulnerable Afghans who assisted the US during the conflict. But the US's ultimate failure in Afghanistan cannot be laid at the feet of a single president or administration.

The war in Afghanistan has been chaotic from start to finish, with US troops often unsure of their mission as multiple administrations - both Republican and Democratic - misled the public about the state of the conflict.

Over the years, Americans were repeatedly told that the US was turning a corner in Afghanistan, but there was rarely evidence to back that up. The US invested $83 billion in training and equipping Afghan forces, with little to show for it. The Afghan military consistently struggled with endemic corruption and discipline issues, exhibiting few signs that it could defeat the Taliban without US assistance.

‘No possible life’ under Taliban rule: Afghan women fear murder, oppression after US withdrawal

  ‘No possible life’ under Taliban rule: Afghan women fear murder, oppression after US withdrawal "If the Taliban returns to power, I along with other women who work in the government will either be stoned to death or executed in public."These memories are invariably the stuff of nightmares.

Every president who has overseen this war made decisions that exacerbated the conflict in various ways.

George W. Bush wearing a suit and tie: President George W. Bush speaks at his first news conference after his reelection on November 4, 2004, at the White House. Alex Wong/Getty Images © Alex Wong/Getty Images President George W. Bush speaks at his first news conference after his reelection on November 4, 2004, at the White House. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The war in Afghanistan began in October 2001 under President George W. Bush, who within the first month of the conflict rejected an offer from the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden in exchange for the US to stop bombing the country. In May 2003, the Bush administration declared that "major combat" was over in Afghanistan. As time would show, this was exceptionally premature.

President Barack Obama drastically ramped up America's troop presence in Afghanistan in 2009 - a move that Biden opposed as vice president. In 2014, Obama shared a timeline to bring US troops home by 2016. He declared an end to the US combat mission in the country in December 2014, but the war was nowhere near finished - and US troops remained in Afghanistan when Obama left office.

While Trump promised to end "forever wars," he relaxed the rules of engagement for airstrikes in Afghanistan in 2017, and under his watch, civilian casualties in the county rose 330% from 2016.

Biden announced the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in April. The Taliban continued to make gains across the country throughout spring and into summer, raising fears of an eventual takeover. Last month, Biden rejected the notion that it was "inevitable" the Taliban would regain power and expressed confidence in the Afghan military. Within a matter of weeks, the Taliban was back in control of Afghanistan.

There's no doubt that Biden and his advisors got much wrong about what would transpire in Afghanistan, but recent events are a product of years of poor decision-making by the US. Like other empires before it, the US has learned the hard way that no amount of military might and money can fundamentally change a complex country like Afghanistan.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The bursting 'Ka-bubble': Taliban extremism is remaking a once-cosmopolitan Kabul .
Restless Kabul residents ponder what remains and what changes in the Afghan capital after more than a month of Taliban rule.Some would say it was less a place than a feeling, the sense that this metropolis — supercharged by billions in Western assistance — was somehow insulated from the daily battles grinding outside the city gates. That wasn't entirely true. Bombings, assassinations and attacks echoed through the capital over the years. But unlike the provinces and hinterlands, this messy city of markets, mosques and green Ford Ranger pickup trucks felt like a relatively safe space in a battered nation.

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