Former Vice President Mike Pence slammed President Joe Biden’s handling of the drawdown in Afghanistan, calling it a “disastrous … foreign-policy humiliation” in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Pence accused Biden of breaking the deal made by former President Donald Trump’s administration with the Taliban by keeping troops in “Afghanistan for an additional four months without a clear reason for doing so.” Pence detailed the Trump administration’s agreement with the Taliban and said they “launched a major offensive against the Afghan government and seized Kabul” after Biden “broke the deal.”
“In February 2020, the Trump administration reached an agreement that required the Taliban to end all attacks on U.S. military personnel, to refuse terrorists safe harbor, and to negotiate with Afghan leaders on creating a new government. As long as these conditions were met, the U.S. would conduct a gradual and orderly withdrawal of military forces,” the former vice president explained.
“Weakness arouses evil—and the magnitude of evil now rising in Afghanistan speaks volumes about the weaknesses of Mr. Biden. To limit the carnage, the president has ordered more troops to Afghanistan, tripling our military presence amid a supposed withdrawal,” Pence continued..
Pence’s op-ed is just the latest in a series of finger-pointing as to who bears blame for the messy withdrawal and current situation on the ground in Afghanistan. Biden in part blamed Trump during remarks Monday, saying he “inherited” the deal and had to choose between following “through on that agreement” or returning to fight “the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season.” (RELATED: ‘Do Not Come’: US Embassy In Afghanistan Reportedly Tells Americans To Remain In Place Before Removing Warnings)
The Biden administration also said the Trump administration is partly at fault for the battle to get Afghan allies out because they didn’t have a plan in place, Axios reported. Pence’s op-ed flipped the tables on the current administration, accusing them of being the ones with no plan.
“There was no plan to transport the billions of dollars worth of American equipment recently captured by the Taliban, or evacuate the thousands of Americans now scrambling to escape Kabul, or facilitate the regional resettlement of the thousands of Afghan refugees who will now be seeking asylum in the U.S. with little or no vetting,” Pence continued. “Rather, it seems that the president simply didn’t want to appear to be abiding by the terms of a deal negotiated by his predecessor.”
Critics were quick to weigh in on Pence’s op-ed, with Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow Thomas Joscelyn calling the piece “major gaslighting.” Joscelyn said that “the Taliban didn’t comply with the counterterrorism provisions or hold real talks with the Afghan government,” a point echoed by HuffPost Senior White House correspondent S.V. Date.
This is some major gaslighting. The Taliban planned to begin its winning offensive for May 1, the withdrawal date enshrined in Trump’s deal. The Taliban didn’t comply with the counterterrorism provisions or hold real talks with the Afghan government. https://t.co/sgHQzMDPaV
— Thomas Joscelyn (@thomasjoscelyn) August 17, 2021
According to Pence, it was BIDEN who broke the deal by saying the US would remain in Afghanistan four additional months.
— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) August 18, 2021
“Biden owns this chaotic withdrawal,” Joscelyn wrote. “The incompetence on display is obvious for all to see and deserves to be criticized. But Trump’s deal with the Taliban was rubbish – perhaps the weakest diplomacy in U.S. history. The Taliban was glad to watch the U.S. retreat.”