The chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in August 2021 has been blamed on the former administration of President Donald Trump in a new report. A 12-page summary of the review, conducted by the State Department and the Pentagon, was sent to Congress on Thursday and a summary of its conclusions was made available to the public.
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, said that the Biden administration had been “severely constrained” by decisions made by the Trump administration, including a 2020 deal with the Taliban to end the war and the drawdown of US troops. He added that the phrase “neglect – and in some cases deliberate degradation” referred to the agreement with the insurgents, as well as the freeing of thousands of Taliban prisoners and the hollowing out of the visa program used to evacuate Afghan allies.
The report acknowledges that the government should have begun the evacuation of civilians earlier. It states that “we now prioritize earlier evacuations when faced with a degrading security situation”. However, it faults the Afghan government and military for delays, together with US military and intelligence community assessments.
Donald Trump responded to the report by accusing “Morons in the White House” of playing “a new disinformation game – Blame ‘TRUMP’ for their grossly incompetent SURRENDER in Afghanistan”. Michael McCaul, the top-ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also slammed the administration for a “brazen whitewashing of their failure in Afghanistan”.
John Kirby said that President Biden had “acted on the best military judgment and the best assessments from the intelligence community” but “some of those assessments turned out to be wrong”. He refused to say if the president regretted how the withdrawal was carried out, adding: “For all this talk of chaos, I just didn’t see it”.
The deadly pull-out ended America’s longest war and resulted in 13 US soldiers and nearly 200 Afghans being killed. British troops were also involved in the evacuation, which Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said at the time had put the UK “in a very difficult position”.
The report implies that lessons had been learned from the end of the war in Afghanistan, especially around the failure to predict the sudden collapse of the Afghan government. This has influenced US policy of supporting Ukraine ahead of Russia’s invasion. When asked if any officials involved with the withdrawal would be removed from their posts as a result of the report, Mr Kirby said its purpose “is not accountability”.