As Afghanistan veered on the brink of collapse Sunday, former President Donald Trump slammed President Joe Biden for abandoning “the plan our Administration left for him — a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America.”
“The plan would be guided by facts on the ground,” Trump stressed as Biden blamed him for striking a peace deal with the Taliban in 2020 that Biden said Saturday had tied his hands.
“One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country,” Biden said in a White House statement. “An endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”
He then Trump for cutting a deal with the Taliban that he said left them “in the strongest position militarily since 2001,” pulling 2,500 troops before he left office and imposing a May 1, 2021 deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces.
“When I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict,” Biden said in the statement.
But Trump was having none of that.
“Joe Biden gets it wrong every time on foreign policy, and many other issues. Everyone knew he couldn’t handle the pressure. Even Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said as much…,” Trump said in one of his “Save America” statements.
“After I took out ISIS, I established a credible deterrent,” Trump said in a statement released late Saturday. “That deterrent is now gone. The Taliban no longer has fear or respect for America, or America’s power. What a disgrace it will be when the Taliban raises their flag over America’s Embassy in Kabul. This is complete failure through weakness, incompetence, and total strategic incoherence.”
On Saturday, Biden boosted the U.S. troop deployment to Afghanistan to ensure an “orderly and safe drawdown” as Taliban fighters expand their control of major cities and advance toward Kabul.
The Taliban seized the city of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. Biden’s authorization on Saturday adds about 1,000 U.S. personnel to the deployment of 3,000 Marines and soldiers announced this week and 1,000 troops already at the airport and the embassy in the Afghan capital, according to a defense official.
The goal is “to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance,” the president said in a statement.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will brief members of Congress on Sunday.
The fall of a series of major cities across Afghanistan in recent days has fueled bipartisan criticism in Washington of Biden’s plan surrounding the U.S. military drawdown by the end of August. U.S. officials have privately acknowledged shock at the swift pace of the Taliban’s advance.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a televised speech on Saturday that regrouping the country’s military, which has opted not to put up a fight in some cities and towns, was a top priority. He warned that Afghanistan is in serious danger of instability.
Ghani said he was in talks with world leaders as well as local politicians, but provided few details. He vowed not to abandon what he called the “achievements” of the past 20 years.
Biden said he has asked Blinken to support Ghani and other Afghan leaders “as they seek to prevent further bloodshed and pursue a political settlement.” Taliban representatives have been warned that any actions putting U.S. personnel at risk “will be met with a swift and strong U.S. military response.”
Taliban fighters have captured key provincial capitals across much of Afghanistan with dizzying speed in less than three weeks. The onslaught continued over the weekend, both close to Kabul and in remote regions bordering Pakistan.
Most foreign troops have already left and the remainder are set to exit by Aug. 31, as Biden follows through on former President Donald Trump’s promise to wind down America’s longest war.
The U.S., Canada, Germany, the U.K. and other countries have been preparing to pull their diplomats out as the security situation worsens. U.S. embassy staff in Kabul have been told to destroy sensitive material.
About 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals are believed to have been captured by the Taliban over the last week, including Kandahar and Herat. More than half of the country’s rural hinterland is now under Taliban control and the fighting has reached the city of Maidan Shahr, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Kabul.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Biden “is to be commended for the clarity of purpose of his statement on Afghanistan and the actions he has taken.”
Story cited here.