Nikki Haley: Austin, Milley Implied Afghanistan Now Hostage Situation for Americans Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner in West Des Moines, Iowa. Haley endorsed New Jersey GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli on Friday, July 9, 2021. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 02 September 2021 01:12 PM
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley for their comments at Wednesday's press conference discussing the U.S. troops withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Among Haley's criticisms of Austin and Milley was them saying that the war in Afghanistan was over despite Americans and allies being left behind in the Taliban-controlled country.
"All they did was talk about how they closed this out. It was like they wanted a pat on the back," Haley said on Fox News shortly after the press conference ended. "It's like they wanted to say that this book was closed. The book is not closed because you have hundreds of thousands of Americans still sitting there in Afghanistan that need to get out.
"This book is not closed, and it goes against the moral code of the military, which is you leave no American behind."
Haley added that "every military veteran, combat veteran like my husband, is still thinking about the Americans that were left behind, still thinking about the Afghan allies that are behind."
"To imply that this book is closed, to say that you're going to a diplomatic operation, is implying that you’re going to a hostage situation," the former South Carolina governor said. "There’s nothing comforting about that."
Haley, considered a potential contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, also criticized the media for asking "softball" questions concerning President Joe Biden's disastrous troops withdrawal.
"For journalists to be asking Austin and Milley about their pain and anger — it's not about their pain and anger. It's about the pain and anger of the American people," Haley told Fox News.
The former ambassador also said it was "a bit disturbing" that no media member asked Austin or Milley about an alleged conversation in which Biden told former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to change the "perception" about the fight against the Taliban, "whether it’s true or not," the New York Post reported.
"Those were the most softball questions I’ve ever heard at a time where we have a lot more questions that aren’t being answered and that goes to the conversation that supposedly took place between Biden and Ghani," Haley said.
"For Biden to sit there and ask Ghani to change the perception of what was happening? The total wrong thing for a president to do. You don’t go asking another leader to change perception. You go and say 'OK something's wrong. We have to change direction. This is not going the way we want it to go.'"