Lawmakers unite in bipartisan fury over Afghanistan pullout

Moderate Democrats are furious with the Biden administration for what they see as terrible planning for the evacuation of Americans and ...

Moderate Democrats are furious with the Biden administration for what they see as terrible planning for the evacuation of Americans and their allies. Liberal Democrats who have long sought to end military engagements around the world complain that the footage outside Kabul harm their cause.

And Republicans who months ago applauded former President Donald J. Trump’s even faster timeline to end US military involvement in the nation’s longest war put aside their previous encouragement. to accuse President Biden of humiliating the nation.

While Mr. Biden was hoping to find cover with politicians from both parties who had reached a broad consensus around the withdrawal, he has found little so far.

Faced with the images of Panicked Afghans attack Kabul airport and inundated with requests from Afghans seeking refuge, some Democrats openly attacked their president’s performance on Monday.

“I have been asking the administration for a refugee evacuation plan for months,” said Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat from Massachusetts and former Marine Corps captain. “I was very explicit: ‘We need a plan. We need a manager. Honestly, we still haven’t really seen the plan.

“They had weeks of opportunities. They had an incredible coalition of Liberal and Conservative lawmakers who were ready to support the administration in this effort, ”continued Moulton, who sits on the Armed Services Committee. “In my mind, it was not just a national security mistake, but also a political mistake. “

A few liberal Democrats emerged ahead of Mr. Biden’s White House speech to the nation in defense of the president, in television appearances that White House officials replayed on Twitter. Still, finding few vocal supporters, administration aides handed out talking points to Congressional Democrats to bolster the president’s position.

The administration said the collapse of the Afghan government and the chaos that followed were not indictments of U.S. policy, but proof that the only way to avert disaster would have been to d ” increase the presence of American troops. And responding to critics who say the president was caught off guard, the talking points said: “The administration knew there was a distinct possibility of Kabul falling to the Taliban. It was not inevitable. It was a possibility.

Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, who for more than two decades was one of the fiercest voices against the wars fought after the attacks of September 11, 2001, said: “Unfortunately there is no solution. military in Afghanistan, ”adding,“ We ​​have been there for 20 years, we have spent over a trillion dollars and we have trained over 300,000 Afghan forces. “

Rep. Jake Auchincloss, Democrat from Massachusetts and former Marines who served in Helmand province, argued that Mr. Biden’s only possible options were to increase the US military footprint in Afghanistan as Withdrawal deadline, accepted by Mr. Trump, came and went – or to “finally tell the truth to the American people.”

“What I have heard” from voters, he said in an interview, “is that what we are seeing in Afghanistan is distressing, but that people appreciate the integrity of the president for pointing out that there is no end there. Twenty years was a long time for Afghan leaders to plant the seeds of civil society, and instead they only planted the seeds of corruption and incompetence.

Privately, Liberal Democrats have been appalled by the spiraling disaster facing Afghan refugees. And some feared the images of chaos in Kabul could serve as a truncheon for hawkish Republicans like Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, to brandish against Democrats urging to repeal passed military force permits. in 1991 before the Gulf War, in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and in 2002 before the US invasion of Iraq.

The Democratic left flank lobbied for major cuts in military spending and foreign defense ministry commitments and a reorganization of government priorities towards poverty reduction, education and protection programs. ‘childhood. But they must now deal with indelible images of the cost of the American disengagement.

Rep. Daniel Crenshaw, Republican of Texas and former Navy SEAL, waved that club when he said on Fox and Friends on Monday: “This is what we get because we have relied on hollow slogans like ‘Bring them back. troops at home “and More endless wars.

Mr McConnell, who had been ruthless during Mr Trump’s administration in his contempt for the former president’s desire to keep his campaign promise and withdraw troops from Afghanistan, hammered Mr Biden in a statement , claiming that the enemies of the nation “watched the embarrassment of a superpower put down.

“America’s involvement in Afghanistan for two decades has had many authors,” said Mr. McConnell. “Likewise, strategic missteps were committed along the way. But while the monumental collapse that our own experts predicted unfolds today in Kabul, the responsibility rests entirely on the shoulders of our current Commander-in-Chief. “

Few Republicans, however, were willing to hint at the role played by one of Mr. Biden’s predecessors – or that Mr. Trump had supported an even faster troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and in April called the end of the war of “wonderful and positive thing.” do.”

Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican and chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, accused Mr. Biden on Monday of abandoning “Trump’s peace plan and exit strategy and creating his own. randomly”. In February, he wrote to Biden imploring him to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan “in the coming weeks.”

But in a sign that lawmakers believed the withdrawal from Afghanistan was still supported by many American voters – at least for now – even some notoriously hawkish Republicans refrained from condemning the decision itself.

“There is a difference between the decision to step down and the way that decision was carried out,” said Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas on “Fox and Friends.”

“Whatever you think of the first decision, Joe Biden’s execution was recklessly negligent,” he said, adding that “all ‘Biden’ maybe had to do was wait a few more months. “to start the withdrawal.

The political impact of the chaos and possible bloodshed in Afghanistan is far from clear, whether in next year’s midterm legislative elections or the 2024 presidential election. Trump felt the political benefit of pulling out when he signed a peace deal with the Taliban, and even invited Taliban leaders to Camp David before the anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, launched from Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban. (The idea was quickly taped off.)

Once images of Kabul this week fade from TV screens, relief that the war is over – at least for US troops – could be the overwhelming emotional outcome.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, Arizona Democrat and former Navy who served in Iraq, said in a long statement on Twitter that the American public had simply “stopped caring about Afghanistan years ago.”

“Our army did not fail in Afghanistan. The American people did not fail in Afghanistan, ”Mr. Gallego wrote. “Of us, the elites in Washington, DC, did it. We failed to understand Afghanistan and we failed to understand the American public’s will for a long engagement… again. “

Jonathan weisman contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Lawmakers unite in bipartisan fury over Afghanistan pullout
Lawmakers unite in bipartisan fury over Afghanistan pullout
Newsrust - US Top News
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