House Republican slams Biden administration’s handling of Afghanistan withdrawal
White House says the damning GOP report is inaccurate and “partisan;” Washington affirms position that the Afghanistan pullout “has strengthened U.S. national security”
A Nebraska Republican slammed the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in an editorial published this weekend in The Washington Times.
“We have only begun to reckon with the far-reaching consequences of our disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the damage it has done to the nation and to the value of the American handshake,” Rep. Don Bacon wrote in the editorial.
“There is no doubt that the premature and ill-planned withdrawal from Afghanistan shocked the world and diminished America’s standing in the eyes of our allies and enemies alike,” Bacon noted. “In places like Ukraine, Taiwan, the Baltics, the Korean peninsula and Israel, our friends, and adversaries take careful note of what we do, not what we say in tweets and press releases. They all watch how we lead or choose not to, how we end our wars, and whether we will keep our promises. Unfortunately, for Afghanistan’s women, girls and former security forces, the verdict is in.”
Bacon’s editorial comes days after the House Republican released a damning report on the U.S. withdrawal, blaming U.S. President Joe Biden for his lack of preparedness, transparency and accountability.
“The administration repeatedly, and at times potentially intentionally, misled the American public about the likely consequences of its decision to withdraw unilaterally, irrespective of conditions,” the report said. “The administration also misled the American public about the military advice President Biden had received regarding Afghanistan. In truth, the president chose to ignore the advice of his top military and diplomatic officials, as well as that of America’s closest allies who sought to make the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan contingent on the Taliban taking real steps towards peace.”
“Once President Biden chose to ignore that advice and proceed with a unilateral withdrawal, the administration failed to plan adequately for the likely consequences of that decision,” the report continued, including evacuation of citizens and allies.
The White House pushed back against the GOP report accusing the administration of failure in the American military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The report sets the stage for a potential congressional probe.
The report’s release last week coincided with the one-year mark of the botched and deadly U.S. withdrawal from Kabul. “‘A Strategic Failure:’ Assessing the Administration’s Afghanistan Withdrawal,” is available here.
“The Biden administration had largely wasted the four months since the president announced the full withdrawal, failing to adequately plan for the anticipated Taliban takeover,” the GOP committee members wrote.
The Republican report provides an analysis of the chaos that ensued with Biden’s decision to precisely follow the timeline of a deal brokered between the Taliban and the Trump administration, despite changing conditions on the ground.
The authors blamed the U.S. State Department for failing to anticipate the surge of refugees at Kabul International Airport and the rapidly mounting applications for Special Immigrant Visas. According to ABC News, more than 77,000 Afghans who had applied for such visas remained in Afghanistan.
The committee noted that only 36 U.S. consular officers had been deployed to Kabul Airport to handle the tens of thousands who were seeking to be evacuated.
The GOP House members, led by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, have revealed that around 3,000 Afghan troops sought refuge in Iran after the Taliban takeover. Nevertheless, many of these have returned to Afghanistan already.
The Republican report mentioned the CIA killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul at the end of July as evidence that Afghanistan has once again become a safe haven for terrorists.
In contrast, the White House stressed that the targeted assassination strengthens the notion that no military ground presence is needed for eliminating terror threats emerging from Afghanistan.
Republicans on the committee are still seeking answers about the botched pullout that led to the death of 13 U.S. soldiers. They have demanded that Biden administration officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, appear at open hearings.
In addition, they have requested transcribed interviews with more than 30 administration officials, which the Biden administration has refused to provide.
Since the Republicans are the minority, they do not have subpoena power. That could change in November if Republicans retake the House.
Meanwhile, the White House pushed back against the upcoming report labeling it as “partisan” and “riddled with false claims,” according to Axios. The Biden administration has circulated its own memo that claims the pullout from Afghanistan has strengthened U.S. national security.
The White House also invokes the claim of top U.S. military officials that if Biden was to stray from the withdrawal plan, thousands more troops would have been required to repel the Taliban’s advances.