In an attempt to whitewash the Biden administration’s widely criticised "chaotic and disorderly" Afghanistan military pull-out, Democrats launched an attack on the former US President Donald Trump for his role in signing the Doha treaty, and "initiating the exit plan" at a congressional hearing on Monday. Both Democrats and Republicans have been playing a blame game over the Afghanistan debacle in a partisan fight about who should be held responsible ever since the last US military plane exited Kabul on 31 August deadline, despite appeals from the UK leader Boris Johnson to negotiate the extension with the Taliban.
At a long-awaited testimony on Afghanistan, on 13 September, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the hasty US military drawdown blaming Trump for ‘empowering Taliban’, reports revealed. Outlining Trump’s last year's withdrawal deal, an "agreement for bringing peace" that entailed withdrawing all US military troops within 14 months from Kabul, Blinken said, President Joe Biden “inherited a Trump agreement.” The Biden-led administration's troops withdrawal from the war-torn nation attracted widespread condemnation from Republicans, and lawmakers, who have demanded his resignation. However, Biden's Dem supporters mounted defence against his decision and accused the former Trump administration of appeasing policies towards the Taliban. Biden had earlier told a presser "the buck stops with him."
“When President Biden took office in January, he inherited an agreement that his predecessor had reached with the Taliban to remove all remaining US troops by 1 May of this year,” US Secretary of State told House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC). “We inherited a [withdrawal] deadline; we did not inherit a plan,” Blinken said. “So no plan at all; it’s amazing that it wasn’t much, much worse,” he was responded to by Congressman Brad Sherman, a California Democrat.
“As part of that agreement, the previous Administration pressed the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners – including some top war commanders. Meanwhile, it reduced our own force presence to 2,500 troops,” Blinken re-iterated, adding that Biden administration had no option but to finalise the withdrawal or escalate the war.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and many fellow Democrats had also defended Biden's administration position, saying that the choice before President Biden was “between full withdrawal and the surging of thousands of Americans to Afghanistan for an undefined time." He went on to add, “To argue that there was a third option, a limited troop presence, where the safety of our personnel could be preserved, in my mind is a fantasy.” Top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mike McCaul, disagreed on the way the treaty was executed as he called the withdrawal “an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions” and “an unconditional surrender to the Taliban".
“This did not have to happen,” McCaul told HFAC in his remarks. “But the president refused to listen to his own generals and the intelligence community, who warned him precisely what would happen when we withdrew,” he added. McCaul also criticised the Biden administration for “abandoning Americans behind enemy lines”. “We left behind the interpreters, who you, Mr. Secretary, and the president both promised to protect. I can summarise this in one word: betrayal.”
Trump had earlier assailed Biden saying that his botched-up execution and mishandling of the retreat of US forces from Afghanistan was “the greatest foreign policy humiliation” in the history of the United States. Calling the military drawdown and the implementation of the Dohan treaty, negotiated by his administration, a “major failure” Trump said, Taliban takeover will be registered in history as “one of the greatest embarrassments" and the "greatest foreign policy humiliation”. Furthermore, he labelled troop withdrawal a "total surrender" and a "gross incompetence by a nation's leader."