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Chalk this up as President Biden’s latest accomplishment in bipartisanship: both Democrats and Republicans are racheting up criticism of the actions he’s taking in Afghanistan.
Republicans — including Sen Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — have even begun invoking the word “impeachment.”
Democrats — while certainly not going nearly as far as anything like impeachment — however also have become more vocal and strident in their criticisms of Biden, who began the week with a seemingly strong sort of resolve by declaring that he “would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth” president of the United States.
Biden currently has sent several thousand US troops back into Afghanistan so as to protect and facilitate the evacuation of American citizens and Afghan allies after completing a final withdrawal of US forces just weeks ago after nearly 20 years occupying Afghanistan.
Circumstances shifted quickly this week, as the hardline Taliban completed their stunning sweep across Afghanistan by capturing the capital city of Kabul.
Meanwhile, heart-wrenching scenes have been bombarding Americans all week from the chaos and pandemonium which has engulfed Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s previous rule of Afghanistan was marked by oppression and brutality — especially towards Afghan women and girls.
US forces dislodged the Taliban after invading Afghanistan in 2002, following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Taliban was giving safe haven to the al-Qaeda masterminds who plotted the attacks.
In a tweet on Friday morning, Graham insisted that Biden should be impeached for “dereliction of duty” if the US military fails to evacuate any Americans or Afghans who worked with US forces.
“If we leave any Americans behind, or if we leave thousands of Afghans who fought bravely alongside us behind, President Joe Biden deserves to be impeached for a High Crime and Misdemeanor of Dereliction of Duty,” he tweeted.
Other Republicans, including Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, also said that they would be pursuing Biden’s impeachment.
Impeachment, however, is very likely to go nowhere with Democrats holding the House majority.
Democrats also have become decidedly more critical of Biden over the last day or so.
“It’s a terrible situation, without question. My reaction is, you have to sort of divide the question here. The decision to get out of Afghanistan, I think, makes sense for many of the reasons that President Biden has said. And to some degree, the rapid collapse of the Afghan national security forces and the Afghan government sort of makes the point that we could have stayed another year, another five, another 10, another 15 and the result wouldn’t have been different,” said Rep Adam Smith (D-Wash), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “The thing that’s really troubling is that the Biden administration didn’t listen to the intelligence more carefully and didn’t plan better.
“When we first started doing hearings on the anticipated decision of the Biden administration to withdraw from Afghanistan in January and February, many members in our committee, including me, asked the Pentagon what their plan was to get our supporters out of Afghanistan. And the initial answers that we got from the Pentagon were, ‘Well, the State Department is handling that.’ We were like, ‘Okay, but it’s a security thing. They’re going to need you.’ And we really didn’t get great answers,” Smith added. “Now, as you know, we in Congress have been pushing from that time. We passed a couple of pieces of legislation to increase the number of visas. We have been pushing for that plan. Sadly, that’s what was missing from this withdrawal plan, was to make sure that our security forces were there to protect the people that we needed to get out.
“I talked to Jason Crow about this yesterday when I got back into town. He said it really didn’t make sense that you take the military personnel out first and the civilian personnel out second,” Smith said, referring to the congressman from Colorado who’s also an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. “You’re going to need the military personnel to help the civilian personnel get out and to help the citizens get out. We have been pressing on this point with the Pentagon for some time, so they did not listen to the intelligence as much as they should have, and they didn’t plan as much for getting the civilians out as they should have. That’s the bottom line. And we’re now seeing the result of that.”
Another Democratic congressman — and former Marine — Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, had harsh words for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“Richard, we’re the United States of America, we absolutely have the capacity to do more than just coordinating the airport. So, Secretary Austin is flat-out wrong when he says that and he should know better,” said Moulton, who served in the war in Iraq. “I mean, if we want to do more, we could. Now, there’s a legitimate question as to whether that’s the right decision, it’s going to put more American lives at risk. There already are a lot of American lives at risk on the ground right now, but it is absolutely within our capability to do more, and I don’t think it sends a good message, I don’t think it sends the right message to the Taliban to say that we’re incapable of putting more pressure on them or doing other things. So I completely disagree with that.
“You know, the other thing that’s going on right now is the State Department is really the organization that’s holding up the exfiltration of refugees, of both American citizens and Afghans who are just simply trying to get into the gate because they’re the ones who are insisting on this bureaucracy that … I think should go away and be sorted out later,” Moulton added. “So I recently received an update — I mean, literally, just a few minutes ago from the State Department that they have 20 consular officers on the ground in Kabul, and wait for a minute — wait for it — they’re surging to 40, 40 consular officers.
“This is the greatest foreign policy disaster that we’ve seen in a very long time and they’re sending 40 people the deal with it? I mean, that’s absurd. We got 6,000 troops on the ground. We need a little bit more effort than 40 consular officers from the United States State Department,” he added.
As well, Sen Mazie Hirono, a progressive Democrat from Hawaii, also had something to say.
“Because, see, what we see with our own eyes, I don’t think it needed to be this way,” she said.
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