Former Vice President Mike Pence is blaming President Biden for the bungled exit from Afghanistan, saying Biden broke a deal the Trump administration had made with the Taliban.
“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 new opinion column in the Wall Street Journal.
Biden on Monday acknowledged the Taliban took control of the country – and its capital, Kabul – “more quickly than we had anticipated.” As of Tuesday, between 5,000 and 10,000 Americans remained in and around Kabul, the White House estimated. The U.S. was instructing them to make their way to the Kabul airport, although the military said it could not protect them on their way there. Many Americans stuck in Kabul received an email stating, “Please be advised that the United States cannot guarantee your security as you make this trip.”
Pence said the Trump administration reached an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 “that required the Taliban 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.”
“As long as these conditions were met, the U.S. would conduct a gradual and orderly withdrawal of military forces,” Pence wrote. “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 Trump and Pence left office, the Afghan government and the Taliban “each controlled their respective territories, neither was mounting major offensives,” and America had only 2,500 troops in the country – “the smallest military presence since the war began in 2001,” Pence wrote.
But when Biden took office, he “quickly announced that U.S. forces would remain in Afghanistan for an additional four months without a clear reason for doing so,” Pence charged.
“There was no plan to transport the billions of dollars worth of American equipment recently captured by the Taliban, or evacuate the thousands of Americans now scrambling to escape Kabul, or facilitate the regional resettlement of the thousands of Afghan refugees who will now be seeking asylum in the U.S. with little or no vetting,” Pence wrote. “Rather, it seems that the president simply didn’t want to appear to be abiding by the terms of a deal negotiated by his predecessor.”
With the deal broken, 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,” Pence wrote. “They’ve seen him kowtow to anti-Semitic terrorist groups like Hamas, restore millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority, and sit by earlier this year while thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli civilians. Weakness arouses evil – and the magnitude of evil now rising in Afghanistan speaks volumes about the weaknesses of Mr. Biden.”
America is “ready to bring our troops home,” but has been embarrassed “on the world stage” due to Biden’s actions, Pence charged.
“[I]t 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 wrote.
Joel Rubin, who served in the Obama State Department, pushed back on Pence’s argument that Biden is to blame.
“Don’t believe Donald Trump & Mike Pence on Afghanistan! 1 – They made the disastrous 2020 Taliban deal that tied our hands. 2 – They backed the disastrous 2003 Iraq invasion that undercut us in Afghanistan,” Rubin tweeted. “They drove us to this day. @POTUS is stopping the car.”
Don’t believe Donald Trump & Mike Pence on Afghanistan!— Joel Rubin (@JoelMartinRubin) August 16, 2021
1-They made the disastrous 2020 Taliban deal that tied our hands.
2-They backed the disastrous 2003 Iraq invasion that undercut us in Afghanistan.
They drove us to this day.@POTUS is stopping the car.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Sean Rayford/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.