President Biden’s top security aide tore into Afghan security forces for failing to stop the Taliban from recapturing their country, saying they lacked the will to fight, despite being amply trained and equipped by Washington.
Asked about Biden’s erroneous prediction last month that the Taliban wouldn’t overrun and regain control of Afghanistan, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told ABC News on Monday that, after the US had provided 20 years of training and tens of billions of dollars in weaponry, the president had good reason to believe that government forces could defend the nation.
When push came to shove, they decided not to step up and fight for their country, Sullivan said.
Critics quickly lambasted Sullivan for suggesting the collapse wasn’t predictable and dumping the blame on Afghan troops. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) called the statement “a bunch of crap.” “This administration was specifically told Afghan forces would surrender faster than our ability to exit,” he added. “They decided to ignore these warnings and smugly tell everyone how smart and brilliant they are.”
What a bunch of crapThis administration was specifically told Afghan forces would surrender faster than our ability to exit. They decided to ignore these warnings & smugly tell everyone how smart & brilliant they are https://t.co/ie4nMG1GIX
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 16, 2021
In fact, the Taliban did recapture Afghanistan faster than the US could complete its withdrawal, which Biden had said would be wrapped up by the end of August. The US embassy in Kabul had to be relocated to the airport for the final evacuation of its staffers on Sunday, as Taliban fighters entered the city and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
The evacuation process has been chaotic, with at least seven people having been killed at the airport, including desperate Afghans who tried to flee by clinging on to a departing US military plane.
“This is a horrible take,” one Twitter user said of Sullivan’s statement. “The training provided obviously wasn’t enough to strengthen the Afghan military if they folded so quickly after our withdrawal. This issue has stemmed from decades of horrible US bipartisan policy – not because they didn’t ‘fight for their country.’”
Yikes. This is a horrible take. The training provided obviously wasn’t enough to strengthen the Afghan military if they folded so quickly after our withdrawal. This issue has stemmed from decades of horrible US bipartisan policy. Not because they didn’t “fight for their country”.
— TT (@quavosleftpinky) August 16, 2021
Sullivan’s comments mark the latest finger-pointing as the Afghanistan crisis becomes a political train wreck for the president. On Saturday, Biden essentially blamed his predecessor, Donald Trump, saying the deal negotiated with the Taliban by the previous administration had strengthened the Islamist group and left him no choice but to withdraw or ramp up US forces in the country.
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Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo excoriated Biden on Sunday, accusing him of “pathetic blame-shifting.” He said Trump had established a strong deterrent to ensure the Taliban would fear threatening US interests, but Biden’s weakness had emboldened the militant group.
As for the training and equipment provided to build up the Afghan security forces, Pompeo said the Pentagon had to “fundamentally rethink” its methods and handling of the security transition to Kabul. “I think that political failure and that military failure is something we’re going to have to take a long, hard look at to make sure we are always securing American freedom,” he said.
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‘Pathetic blame-shifting’: Pompeo blasts Biden for ‘failed’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and faulting Trump for Taliban takeover
The commanding general of the Afghan army, Sami Sadat, said in July that his forces felt abandoned by the US. American troops left the Bagram Airfield, formerly the largest base for the Western war effort, without even notifying the installation’s new Afghan commander.
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