Trump Created Conditions for Chaotic US Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Review Finds

A review of the chaotic 2021 US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has found that former President Donald Trump was largely to blame.

An interagency review led by the National Security Council found that President Joe Biden was “severely constrained” by his predecessor’s decisions.

The White House released a 12-page summary of the results of the so-called “hot washing” of US policies surrounding the end of the nation’s longest war.

The administration said most of the after-action reviews, which were privately transmitted to Congress on Thursday, were highly classified and would not be made public.

“President Biden’s options on how to execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan were severely limited by the conditions created by his predecessor,” the White House summary states, noting that when Biden took office “the Taliban were in the military position stronger than they had been.” since 2001, controlling or disputing almost half of the country”.

The report criticizes the intelligence community’s overly optimistic assessments of the Afghan military’s willingness to fight and says Biden followed recommendations from military commanders on the pace of US force drawdowns.

The White House said Afghanistan mistakes informed its handling of Ukraine, where the Biden administration has been credited with supporting kyiv’s defense against invasion from Russia.

The White House said it simulated worst-case scenarios ahead of the February 2022 invasion and moved to release intelligence on Moscow’s intentions months beforehand.

“We now prioritize earlier evacuations when faced with a degrading security situation,” the White House said.

In an apparent attempt to defend its national security decision-making, the Biden administration also notes that it issued pre-war warnings over “strong objections from senior Ukrainian government officials.”

Republicans in Congress have strongly criticized the withdrawal from Afghanistan, focusing on the deaths of 13 service members in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport.

United States Afghanistan
Afghan passengers board a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III during the evacuation from Afghanistan at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (MSgt. Donald R Allen/US Air Force via AP)

Former Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, who was seriously injured in the blast, told a congressional hearing last month that the withdrawal “was a catastrophe” and that “there was an inexcusable lack of accountability.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby credited US forces for their actions in carrying out the largest air evacuation of non-combatants in history during the chaos of the fall of Kabul.

“They ended the longest war in our nation,” he told reporters. “That was never going to be an easy thing to do. And as the president himself has said, it was never going to be low quality, low risk or low cost.

Since the US withdrawal, Biden has blamed Trump’s February 2020 deal with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, saying it forced the US to leave the country.

The deal gave the Taliban significant legitimacy and has been blamed by analysts for undermining the US-backed government, which would so quickly collapse a year later.

But the agreement also gave the United States the right to withdraw from the agreement if the Afghan peace talks failed, which they did.

The agreement required the US to withdraw all forces by May 1, 2021. Biden pushed for a full withdrawal through September but refused to delay any longer, saying it would prolong a war that had long needed to end.


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