OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
After a report in which the administration of President Joe Biden largely blamed his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for the Afghanistan withdrawal disaster, one Democrat has raised his voice to take Biden to task.
Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Seth Moulton appeared on the NBC News show MTP Daily,” where he said it was not true that the Biden administration did not have choices because of decisions made by the Trump administration, Breitbart News reported.
“It’s not wrong that Trump did a lot of bad things that sent our Afghanistan policy in a terrible direction. But there are a lot of bad things Trump did that the Biden administration wasted no time undoing,” he said. “So, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to say that our hands were permanently tied. Were they tied? Yes. But could we have undone them? I think we could have. I saw The New York Times headline that just said that one of the conclusions is that we should have started the evacuation earlier. That’s something I was asking the administration to do for months, both behind the scenes and in public. I hope we learn some lessons from that mistake.”
But reporters were even tougher on the White House.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby answered questions about the report that examined the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
The report blames the unmitigated disaster on the fact that former President Trump promised to have the troops removed from Afghanistan by May of 2021.
“The Afghanistan retreat was a total mess under Biden. And now his Afghanistan exit report mentions Trump more than ISIS. But the White House still insists they did everything right,” Fox News host Jesse Watters said on Twitter.
The Afghanistan retreat was a total mess under Biden. And now his Afghanistan exit report mentions Trump more than ISIS. But the White House still insists they did everything right. pic.twitter.com/0tmrO7htpf
— Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) April 6, 2023
“But while it was always the President’s intent to end that war, it is also undeniable that decisions made and the lack of planning done by the previous administration significantly limited options available to him,” Kirby said at the press conference.
“President Biden inherited a force presence in Afghanistan of some 2,500 troops. That was the lowest since 2001. He inherited a Special Immigrant Visa program that had been starved of resources. And he inherited a deal struck between the previous administration and the Taliban that called for the complete removal of all U.S. troops by May of 2021 — or else the Taliban, which had stopped its attacks while the deal was in place, would go back to war against the United States,” he said.
Even reporters at the press conference were stunned with the lack of accountability by the Biden administration and its blame of the former president.
“There’s four pages here of blame on the previous administration or this White House explanation of what the last White House did regarding Afghanistan. Nowhere in here does there appear to be any expression of accountability or mistake by either the President himself or others. Is there any for what happened?” one reporter said.
“It seems like page after page, this places the blame on the previous administration, starting with page one. “President Biden’s choices for how to execute a withdraw from Afghanistan were severely constrained by conditions created by his predecessor,” another reporter said.
“But — but wait — before I answer — but that do- — but you need to remember — and I get the question about, you know, the previous administration — you got to look at when he came into office what he was walking into,” Kirby said to one reporter’s question.
“He didn’t negotiate with the Taliban. He didn’t invite the Taliban to Camp David. He didn’t release 5,000 prisoners. He didn’t reduce force levels in Afghanistan to 2,500. And he didn’t have an arrangement with the Taliban that they wouldn’t attack our troops,” he said.
“He came in with a certain set of circumstances he had no ability to change. He had to deal with it based on what he inherited,” he said.
But that was not a satisfactory answer for other reporters.
“Just to follow up and my colleague’s questioning about the blame assigned to the previous administration. Specifically, how does the — how is the Trump administration responsible for the disorganized and chaotic process of evacuation and determining who gets to board these evacuation flights? I mean, you mentioned that there’s a review in terms of the lessons learned. Can you share some of those lessons learned, just specifically in terms of who gets to board evacuation flights?” another reporter said to which Kirby responded that he would not speak beyond what the report said.
And Fox News reporter Peter Doocy took apart Kirby during the press conference.
“There were children being killed. There were people hanging off of Air Force jets that were leaving. And you’re saying that you guys are proud of the way that this mission was conducted?” he said. “You’re proud of that? “
“Proud of the fact that we got more than 124,000 people safely out of Afghanistan? You bet. Proud of the fact that American troops were able to seize control of a defunct airport and get it operational in 48 hours? You bet,” Kirby said.
“Proud of the fact that we now have about 100,000 Afghans, our former allies and partners, living in this country and working towards citizenship? You bet. But does that mean that everything went perfect in that evacuation? Of course not,” he said.
“I’ve talked about it from a dif- — a different podium. The after-action reviews are now being reviewed by members of Congress, which will lay out things that could have gone better. Nobody is saying that everything was perfect, but there was a lot that went right. And a lot of Afghans are now living better lives in this country and other countries around the world because of the sacrifices and the work of so many American government officials. So, yeah, there’s a lot to be proud of, Peter,” he said.