OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the latest member of Congress to blame the still-unfolding evacuation catastrophe in Afghanistan on former President Donald Trump though he managed to defeat ISIS during his first year in office, created stability in the country for the past year and has not been in office for seven months.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who often refers to conservatives and those who disagree with her politically as racists, the self-declared democratic socialist from New York pointed the finger of blame for Thursday’s deadly attack on U.S. forces outside the international airport at Kabul on the previous president and his administration.
Two separate attacks killed 11 Marines, two U.S. Army soldiers, and a Navy corpsman while wounding 17 others. More than 100 Afghanis were killed; the splinter terrorist group ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ocasio-Cortez, a founding member of the left-wing “Squad,” was set up by Reid, as the discussion focused on accepting refugees.
“We used to have an annual ceiling of 231,000 people under Ronald Reagan. No moderate figure there. George W. Bush 70,000. Under President Obama, it was 85,000. Under Trump 15,000. We have had former members of the administration come forward and talk about Stephen Miller, eventual essentially waging rhetorical war against the idea of Afghans coming here,” Reid said.
“We have seen people on another network call them invaders…So there is another side of this. There is another side that doesn’t want any of them here. So do you think that the politics around bringing more people in are going to be challenged by that xenophobic attitude we are seeing play out?” Reid asked.
Ocasio-Cortez ran with that.
“It is no secret that the Trump administration carried out extremely xenophobic and racist immigration policies. When we look at the turmoil of what is happening now, one of the questions we have to ask as well — Afghanistan is a responsibility and that falls upon the shoulders of virtually every president since George W. Bush,” she began.
“One of the things we see, what was the Trump administration doing when they were not pre-evacuating out under the SIV program, these Afghan interpreters and nationals and allies? It is because of Stephen Miller and his rhetoric and the xenophobia of the Trump administration that there were many thousands of Afghans we could have worked on evacuating much earlier than even this year,” she claimed.
In fact, Trump’s pullout had already begun.
After coming to an agreement with Taliban representatives in February 2020, Trump ordered U.S. troop withdrawals to begin; thousands were removed and just 2,500 remained in January when he was replaced by Biden.
The incoming president extended Trump’s May 1 deadline to August 31 — Tuesday — but apparently in the ensuing months did not himself order SIVs and other Afghans who were key to assisting American troops out of the country, either.
What’s more, prior to Thursday, there had not been any loss of life among American military personnel due to combat for 18 months; one of Trump’s conditions for withdrawal from Afghanistan was that the Taliban not launch any attacks against U.S. or NATO forces, an agreement the group kept, for what it’s worth.
But Ocasio-Cortez’s version of events is far different from that of Republicans, who understand that Biden has been commander-in-chief for months and any military-related decisions are his and not Trump’s to make.
Trump addressed the attack in a statement later Thursday.
“As one nation, America mourns the loss of our brave and brilliant American service members in a savage and barbaric terrorist attack in Afghanistan,” Trump began.
“These noble American warriors laid down their lives in the line of duty. They sacrificed themselves for the country that they loved, racing against time to rescue their fellow citizens from harm’s way. They died as American Heroes, and our nation will honor their memory forever,” Trump added.
“This tragedy should never have taken place. It should never have happened, and it would not have happened if I were your President,” he said.