A number of officials who served under former President Barack Obama have come forward to criticize President Joe Biden over the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan.
Advisers David Axelrod and Brett Bruen joined former Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in questioning the Biden administration’s rapid withdrawal of troops. They further raised the apparent failure to address the possibility that Taliban forces would capitalize on the absence of American troops before interpreters and other allies could be safely extracted from the country. (RELATED: ‘We Just Can’t Keep Abandoning Allies’: Joe Scarborough Goes After Biden, Calls Afghanistan Withdrawal A ‘Political Disaster’)
The former advisor said in a tweet that while Biden had done a reasonably good job explaining why he chose to fully withdraw troops from Afghanistan, he had done a good enough job explaining how poorly executed the withdrawal had been.
.@POTUS made a compelling case for WHY we are leaving Afghanistan that will resonate with many.
He didn’t do as well taking responsibility for HOW we got out, and the obvious failure to anticipate events.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) August 16, 2021
Axelrod elaborated further during an appearance on CNN’s “The Lead,” saying that was fine to blame previous administrations or the Afghan security forces for failing to stand against the Taliban, but that Biden also should have shouldered some responsibility for the rollout.
“Why did we fail in anticipating what happened? So I think he would have served himself well if he had just embraced it. Yes, there were failures on the part — clearly on the part of the Afghans. Yes, the government there is corrupt. Yes, Donald Trump left him with a mess,” Axelrod said. “All of that is true, but he is the commander in chief now. He is in charge of this operation. And he should’ve said it did not go as it should have and taken responsibility for that.”
Bruen, who served in the Obama administration as the director of global engagement, said Monday that Biden should fire National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who has placed the blame for the still-unfolding situation squarely on the heads of the Afghan security forces.
He also made an appearance on “America’s Newsroom” to discuss the situation with Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer.
“I can say there were a number of us from the Obama administration officials who are concerned. We want nothing but the best for our country. We want nothing but the best for Biden’s team but they have had a number of unforced errors. Afghanistan is the worst of them,” Bruen said.
Crocker, who served reopened the American Embassy in Kabul in 2002 and then returned to serve as Ambassador to Afghanistan in 2011, called the troop withdrawal a “self-inflicted wound.” He added that it left him wondering whether Biden was equipped to serve as commander in chief.
‘I’m Left With Some Grave Questions’: Obama-Era Afghanistan Ambassador Doubting If Biden Can Lead As Commander In Chief https://t.co/EsyxfUX0NC
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 16, 2021
Crocker told The Spokesman-Review that he believed the Biden administration should have seen the Taliban takeover coming.
“We’re going to pay for that for a long time to come, and that’s why it is insane – just idiotic – to think that we can tell the Taliban that if they don’t stop taking over territory and play nice, the international community will withhold recognition and support,” Crocker said.
He went on to warn that the climate was ripe for the Taliban to once again foster the growth of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, and argued that the priority should be extracting as many allies as possible before the Taliban could find them.
“I’m left with some grave questions in my mind about his ability to lead our nation as commander-in-chief,” he concluded. “To have read this so wrong – or, even worse, to have understood what was likely to happen and not care.”
The former CIA Director and Defense Secretary told CNN’s John King that he was reminded of former President John F. Kennedy and the failed Cuban rebellion at the Bay of Pigs.
“In many ways, I think of John Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs, you know? It unfolded quickly and the president thought that everything would be fine and that was not the case,” Panetta said. He added, on the other hand, that Kennedy “took responsibility for what took place.”
Panetta went on to say that Biden’s next job was to find a way to reassure Americans — and the rest of the world — that he was prepared to address terrorist threats.
“He’s got to make clear to the American people that as commander in chief, he is going to continue to protect our national security and that we are going to go after terrorists wherever the hell they are at,” Panetta said.
“He’s just got to ensure that the United States of America remains a strong world leader that can work with our allies to try to protect peace and prosperity. That is the message he’s got to give the American people and the world, because our credibility right now is in question.”