President Joe Biden accused his predecessor of leaving the Taliban in the “strongest position militarily” before leaving office. Donald Trump blamed his successor for fleeing Afghanistan instead of following the previous administration’s plan.
Biden authorized deploying about 5,000 U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan. Troops will help draw down U.S. personnel, and other allied personnel, as they evacuate despite a sustained Taliban offensive on Aug. 14.
The incumbent defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
“One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country,” he said in a statement. “An endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”
The president then blamed his predecessor for leaving the United States in an indefensible position in Afghanistan.
“When I came to office I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor, which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019,” he said. “That left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001, and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. forces. Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500.”
The Democrat claimed he faced a difficult choice after seizing control of the Oval Office.
“Follow through on the deal with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’s forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict,” he said. “I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan–two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
However, Trump believes his successor only ended the armed conflict because he could not “handle the pressure.”
“He ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our administration left for him, a plan that protected our people and our property–and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our embassy, or providing a base for new attacks against America,” he said on Gab. “The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground.”
The previous president revealed his leadership helped neutralize the Islamic State threat and effectively deterred its supporters.
“That deterrent is now gone, the Taliban no longer has fear or respect for America–or America’s power,” he said. “What a disgrace it will be when the Taliban raises their flag over America’s Embassy in Kabul. This is complete failure through weakness, incompetence, and total strategic incoherence.”
Biden previously confirmed he would withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan no later than the end of August.
“The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart,” he said at the time.
His decision to send troops back to Afghanistan came after the Taliban quickly seized control over 24 of 34 Afghan provinces, and rapidly closed on Kabul.