Rep. Michael McCaul: Biden owns Afghanistan mess – he wasted time, ignored advice and now blames others

Biden's decision was clearly political and not remotely based on the situation on the ground

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As the Biden administration faces yet another self-imposed crisis, they are once again falling on their favorite talking point: blame anyone but us.  

It’s become a common refrain from the Biden administration. And one that usually has very little truth behind it. But here, when facing one of the worst international crises in years, those words are particularly pathetic and painful.  

It’s been almost seven months since President Biden took office. In that time, he made quick work of reversing dozens of President Trump’s policies and positions, including Remain in Mexico, the asylum cooperation agreements with Central American countries, the Paris climate deal, and the Iran nuclear deal.  

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Yet he claimed to have no choice but to move forward with the withdrawal outlined in the U.S.-Taliban agreement despite the severely deteriorating situation on the ground. Despite the fact that the agreement was conditions-based – for a reason – and the Taliban had completely failed to hold up their side of the bargain.   

His decision was clearly political and not remotely based on the situation on the ground nor our national security interests. Not only because he chose the 20th anniversary of 9/11 for the withdrawal date – a move that likely caused the terrorists that targeted us to celebrate another victory – but because he and his staff have repeatedly cited public polling as the reason behind his decision.  

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In response, in May I wrote an op-ed with President Obama’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, where we urged President Biden to immediately take critical steps to keep our embassy safe, to evacuate our people and our partners who were in harm’s way, and to replace the vital intelligence capabilities we would be losing once we were gone.  

Ambassador Crocker and I were not the only people sounding the alarm. Republicans and Democrats alike joined national security experts to plead with President Biden to ensure this withdrawal did not result in another Saigon.   

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Instead, he ignored the bipartisan calls for action.  

Over the next four months, as our calls for action intensified, the situation on the ground in Afghanistan was deteriorating further. 

The State Department and politicals at the White House continued to paint a rosy picture based on the pipedream of peace negotiations. The State Department and President Biden himself repeatedly assured us the Afghan military was "better trained, better equipped, and more competent in terms of conducting war" than the Taliban. We were told the peace negotiations would yield results, without any proof of that claim. 

Of course, the assessment by the intelligence community and those within the Defense Department were much grimmer. To them, the question of the Taliban takeover was a question of when – not if. 

The American people aren’t fooled. They know the president is attempting to shift the blame to anyone besides himself, including by blaming the very Afghans they abandoned. 

Stories began surfacing of the more realistic intelligence assessments of the security situation and the inevitability of the Taliban takeover. As recently as last week even, reports broke that the intelligence community believed the Taliban could topple Kabul within 30 days. At the same time, the Taliban had still not severed ties with Al Qaeda and was waging offensives against major population areas. 

And still, President Biden failed to address the pleas for him to take action, failed to put together a strategy to ensure we could get Americans and our partners out, and failed to adequately prepare for what everyone but him seemed to know was coming. 

Now, after four months of wasted time, President Biden expects the American people to somehow believe the blame lies with President Trump.  

The American people aren’t fooled. They know the president is attempting to shift the blame to anyone besides himself, including by blaming the very Afghans they abandoned. 

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At this moment, thousands of Americans are trapped in Afghanistan, while the Biden administration begs the Taliban to allow us to continue to evacuate our people. Their deaths or the deaths of any SIV applicants who were unable to safely get out of the country because of the president’s failure to plan will be squarely on his shoulders.  

This is a shameful moment in American history and the images of desperate Afghans climbing onto U.S. military planes, risking their lives to get out of the country, will be burned into the brains of our allies around the world. Trust in the United States as a partner has been deeply shaken – at least under President Biden.  

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