A Democratic U.S. senator on Sunday blamed former President Donald Trump for leaving the Biden administration with “very bad options” that led to the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal in 2021.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the remarks during an appearance on “FOX News Sunday.”
“Make no mistake about it,” the senator said, “the Biden administration had very bad options. The decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was made by the Trump administration.”
Cardin’s comments follow the White House’s public release of a 12-page summary of the results of the U.S. policies around the ending of the nation’s longest war, taking little responsibility for its own actions and asserting that Biden was “severely constrained” by Trump’s decisions.
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Cardin continued to lay blame along those same lines, saying that with troop numbers reduced to 2,500 by the time Biden started his term, the president “had little options left.”
“President Biden basically had one of two choices: was he going to get out of Afghanistan or put more troops into Afghanistan with no end in sight?”
Cardin added that these “were not good options” and Biden made what he thought was the best decision based on the intelligence available at the time.
“Did it present real challenges for Americans and others getting out of Afghanistan? You bet it did,” Cardin added.
The senator cited some mistakes with the withdrawal, including the intelligence on the strength of the Afghan government and the encroaching Taliban forces.
“Admittedly, the intelligence information about the strength of the Afghan government to stand up against the Taliban was not accurate,” the senator said. “The Taliban took over much quicker than anyone had anticipated.”
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Cardin laid out three points in what he described as “the major mistake” of the deadly withdrawal.
“I think the major mistake was made in negotiating directly with the Taliban, not involving the Afghan government, unilaterally withdrawing our troops to a level that did not give us the ability to be able to protect U.S. interests moving forward,” he said.
Republicans in Congress have sharply criticized the Afghanistan withdrawal, focusing on the deaths of 13 service members in a suicide bombing at Kabul’s airport, which also killed more than 100 Afghans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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