Former Vice President Mike Pence this week criticized President Joe Biden for the manner in which the United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, calling it "disastrous" and a “reckless retreat.”
"The Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan is a foreign-policy humiliation unlike anything our country has endured since the Iran hostage crisis," Pence wrote in a blistering op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
“In recent days, the world has watched panicked civilians cling to U.S. military aircraft in a desperate attempt to escape the chaos unleashed by Mr. Biden’s reckless retreat,” Pence wrote.
“American diplomats had to beg our enemies not to storm our embassy in Kabul. Taliban fighters have seized scores of American military vehicles, rifles, artillery, aircraft, helicopters and drones.”
Pence cited Biden's July remarks that the "Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country [of Afghanistan] is highly unlikely,” with Pence noting it is now becoming a "horrifying reality." The Taliban took control of Afghanistan on Sunday after sweeping into Kabul in a matter of days following the exit of U.S. troops.
In an address to the nation on Monday, Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops amid the scenes of chaos in Kabul, blaming Afghan leaders and arguing he was constrained by a deal negotiated under former President Donald Trump with the Taliban.
Former President Donald Trump did reach an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020, which required the political group to end all attacks on U.S. military personnel, to refuse terrorists safe harbor, and to negotiate with Afghan leaders on creating a new government, Pence wrote.
“As long as these conditions were met, the U.S. would conduct a gradual and orderly withdrawal of military forces. Unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, the agreement immediately brought to Afghanistan a stability unseen in decades. In the past 18 months, the U.S. has not suffered a single combat casualty there.
"By the time we left office, the Afghan government and the Taliban each controlled their respective territories, neither was mounting major offensives, and America had only 2,500 U.S. troops in the country—the smallest military presence since the war began in 2001.”
But once Biden broke the deal, Pence wrote, the Taliban launched a major offensive against the Afghan government and seized Kabul. “They knew there was no credible threat of force under this president. They’ve seen him kowtow to anti-Semitic terrorist groups like Hamas, restore millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority.
"Weakness arouses evil—and the magnitude of evil now rising in Afghanistan speaks volumes about the weaknesses of Mr. Biden," Pence added.
"It has embarrassed America on the world stage, caused allies to doubt our dependability, and emboldened enemies to test our resolve. Worst of all, it has dishonored the memory of the heroic Americans who helped bring terrorists to justice after 9/11, and all who served in Afghanistan over the past 20 years." Pence concluded that "the manner in which Mr. Biden has executed this withdrawal is a disgrace, unworthy of the courageous American service men and women whose blood still stains the soil of Afghanistan."
Biden on Monday amid criticism, said: “I stand squarely behind my decision."
"After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces,” he said. Biden said the U.S. had trained the Afghan army, but if the Afghans were not willing to defend themselves against the Taliban, there was nothing the U.S. could do.
"I know my decision will be criticized, but I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision on to another President of the United States — yet another one — a fifth one," the president said in his address to the country.
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