The deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers, many of whom are placing the blame at the feet of President Joe Biden.
Nearly a dozen lawmakers sent a letter to the Biden administration this week demanding that the U.S. Department of State and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expedite the evacuation of all remaining Americans and Afghan allies still desperately seeking escape from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The effort comes after a difficult withdrawal from the nation left many Americans, and Afghan cooperators, behind.
“Each passing day makes it more difficult to safely evacuate Americans and our allies from Afghanistan as winter approaches, and the Taliban tightens their grip over the country,” said said Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga, who helped lead the effort.
“It is despicable that the Biden Administration abandoned these people in the President’s catastrophic withdrawal, and it is totally unacceptable that they remain trapped behind enemy lines. Unfortunately, to date, the State Department has shown little urgency and no lasting commitment to evacuate our citizens and allies. Even now, our offices remain in contact with U.S. citizens and Afghans alike who have been hung out to dry. The American people,” he continued, “have had enough of President Biden’s miscalculations and incompetence. We are presenting a clear list of critical actions that the Administration should have undertaken weeks ago, and we demand that they move NOW to complete this evacuation as swiftly as possible.”
Biden has defended his decision, saying it was necessary to end the long war, though critics have pushed back on how the withdrawal process was done. Rep. Hice has called Biden’s efforts to help evacuees “underwhelming,” a critique shared by many of his opponents.
Nontheless, Biden has maintained his commitment to his decision.
“The fundamental obligation of a President, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America — not against threats of 2001, but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow,” Biden said on the last day of the withdrawal. “That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan. I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars a year in Afghanistan. But I also know that the threat from terrorism continues in its pernicious and evil nature. But it’s changed, expanded to other countries. Our strategy has to change too.”