While many Americans are happy that the nation’s longest war is finally ending, critics are piling on President Joe Biden for finishing the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan that began under President Donald Trump.
Republicans in particular are hammering Biden, with Rep. Michael McCaul (TX), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, claiming that Biden will “own” the “ugly images” of a supposed ensuing power vacuum, The Hill reports.
It was Trump’s idea
President Trump, in a challenge to Republican orthodoxy, campaigned in 2016 in part on ending the “endless wars” that President George W. Bush launched in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before leaving office, Trump negotiated a controversial agreement with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan by May of 2020.
Biden delayed the withdrawal until Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks by al-Qaida that began the War on Terror, in an obvious attempt to take credit for ending America’s longest war from Trump.
While public opinion has long since turned against the war, the withdrawal is not without its opponents. Neoconservatives have long argued that leaving Afghanistan will embolden the Taliban, and such warnings are now ramping up.
“When we fully withdraw, the devastation and the killings and women, humanitarian crisis, fleeing across the border into Pakistan, President Biden is going to own these ugly images,” McCaul told Fox News, according to The Hill.
Still others have argued that the withdrawal is illusory, as the United States is leaving some 650 troops behind, The Hill notes, and Biden has spoken in broad and vague terms about an ongoing commitment to prevent the Taliban from coming back to power and threatening Afghanis, particularly women and girls.
Americans support withdrawal
But that is precisely what Biden’s critics project will happen. Many point to ominous reports from the intelligence community (which notoriously spied on President Trump for political reasons) that Afghanistan will crumble without support from American forces.
According to The Hill, McCaul said that he is “concerned that we will be going back” and that aides to Afghanistan’s president told him that 2021 would be “the year of jihad.”
“But at some point, our vital interests are ISIS and al-Qaida, and we are going to give them a safe haven as the Taliban takes over that nation and that vacuum is going to be filled by terrorists,” he said.
The Biden administration has also been criticized for abandoning Bagram Airfield, the base of American operations in the country for 20 years, in the middle of the night without notifying Afghan forces, the New York Post notes. Looters grabbed equipment that was left behind.
Is chaos on the horizon? Perhaps, but for many Americans, this is a war that has gone on for too long.