Liz Cheney: Biden Could Have Nixed Trump Pact for Afghanistan Withdrawal Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 22 August 2021 10:31 AM
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo,, on Sunday said there's no reason President Joe Biden could not have gotten out of the Trump administration agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” Cheney said Biden “had no problem in reversing course on other things.”
“He's reversed a number of decisions of the Trump administration,” she said. “In this circumstance, where absolutely the U.S. national security requirement was to maintain a presence on the ground… to train the Afghans bearing the brunt of this and fighting for us, President Biden ignored the advice of his military leadership and decided instead he's going to withdraw.”
“The White House is denying what we know is happening on the ground which is Americans are being beaten, prevented from getting to the gates of the [Kabul] airport and probably being held hostage,” she added.
“I think there's no question we have to maintain, need to maintain a presence on the ground. 3500 forces, counterterrorist operations, counterintelligence operations.”
Cheney also blasted former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the “surrender agreement” with then Taliban, and for not pressing it to reject al-Qaeda, saying it led “directly” to the collapse of the Afghan government and Taliban takeover.
“We know the Taliban has never renounced al Qaeda,” she said, “This is one of the things that was such an indefensible step by the Trump administration. When President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo decided to sign a surrender agreement with the Taliban.”
“We sat down and negotiated with terrorists because we completely excluded the Afghan government from those negotiations,” she said. “We gave credibility to the Taliban. Secretary Pompeo told us that the Taliban was going to renounce al Qaeda. They told us that the Taliban was going to fight terrorists. They forced the Afghan national government … to release 5,000 prisoners. We completely undercut the Afghan national government, absolutely emboldened the Taliban.”
According to Cheney, public reports show the moment the agreement was signed, “the Taliban went to members of the Afghan national army and said, ‘the Americans are leaving you, you should lay down your arms when the time comes or we'll kill you and your families.’
“That led directly to the catastrophe we're seeing today,” she said.
Cheney argued that the U.S. troop involvement in Afghanistan was never about nation building, but “what can we do to maintain stability so we don’t have further terrorist attacks from Afghan soil.”
“There's no question that there were mistakes, strategies pursued… that didn't have the resources they needed,” she said of the failure.
“For the United States to be in a position where we need to ensure Afghanistan is not a safe haven, that means we've got to provide the support necessary to continue to have the Afghans bear the brunt of the fight. It means we've got to help to build the institutions that can withstand the al Qaeda and Taliban threat that continues.”
“So this isn't about building a democracy that looks like the United States. It's about what can we do to maintain stability so we don't have further terrorist attacks from Afghan soil,” she declared.
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