OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
U.S. military vets are not happy with President Joe Biden following the one-year anniversary of the deadly, chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
According to the Washington Examiner, vets are annoyed that Biden mostly ignored the deadly withdrawal on Aug. 31, 2021, after the U.S. military spent nearly 20 years fighting a low-level conflict there at a cost of thousands of lives.
In addition to vets, the family and friends of American troops who died there along with foreign policy critics were also miffed at the president’s dismissal of the anniversary, the outlet reported further.
“The White House has been adamant that Biden’s actions demonstrate his commitment to the U.S. military and the country’s national security interests. But the president is under pressure to do more to help Afghan allies and ensure lessons are learned from the withdrawal after he marked the anniversary without a single public event,” said the Examiner, which added:
Matthew Young, executive director of Heart of an Ace, a nonprofit organization assisting Afghan allies, described being “blown away” by Biden’s “lack of response and follow-through” throughout the Afghanistan evacuation “crisis” and his “lack of acknowledgment,” particularly regarding the terrorist attack near Hamid Karzai International Airport’s Abbey Gate that killed 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghan civilians last year.
“It’s understandable as a leader to not want to focus on things that didn’t go as well as you would hope,” Young, an Iraq War veteran, told the Washington Examiner. “But there needs to be an acknowledgment because we lost a lot of brothers and sisters of the U.S. military, our NATO allies, and our Afghan allies throughout the conflict.
“Words are only going to go so far because the actions and deeds have also been missing,” he added, in reference to the lengthy extraction and withdrawal. “It feels like a slap in the face.”
Young recommended that the president push substantially more federal resources into still ongoing evacuation efforts as well as resettlement to the U.S. and humanitarian projects still based in Afghanistan. That, he said, would earn him plaudits from critics in the country and around the world.
One former Pentagon, in remarks to the Examiner on condition of anonymity, agreed with Young and called on Biden to adopt new policies and strategies to deal with the realities on the ground in Afghanistan. They should address potential threats posed by certain groups now operating in the country as well as the potential long-term potential consequences on military members who were asked to play “God” during the evacuation operations a year ago.
“They know that this is not something that is popular for them to talk about,” the official said regarding the Biden administration. “But with the amount of people that have been affected both here in the United States and in Afghanistan, in addition to the lack of accountability, there needs to be a public discussion to move forward.”
Biden, as well as members of his administration and party, have chosen to remain largely silent about the withdrawal because they understand it is “a major foreign policy embarrassment,” the Vandenberg Coalition’s senior policy director, Amanda Rothschild, said, according to the Examiner.
“The president did release a statement on the anniversary of the Abbey Gate bombing, but I would have hoped he would have honored the memory of the 13 fallen American service members more publicly — not just on the anniversary but at several points over the course of the past year, especially during remarks on Memorial Day,” Rothschild, a onetime White House National Security Council speechwriter, noted.
“The withdrawal did not go well for a number of reasons, which we’ll be debating and studying for years to come,” Tom Cochran, an Obama State Department official who is now a partner at public affairs firm 720 Strategies, added.
“A little more than two months out until the midterms, the narrative needs to be forward-looking,” he said, citing Biden’s Aug. 26 statement. He added that as president, “you should always be doing more — that’s the burden of the office.”