Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has “given a huge boost to militant Islam everywhere,” a former US ambassador to Kabul has said, in a stunning broadside against the president.
Ryan Crocker, who served as ambassador to Afghanistan under Barack Obama, described the situation as a “disaster” and said it “flouted 20 years of work and sacrifice”.
The 72-year-old, who was described by former secretary of state Colin Powell as “one of our very best foreign service officers,” said that Biden’s lack of strategic patience in Afghanistan has damaged alliances, emboldened enemies and increased the security risk to the West.
Biden is preparing to address the nation for the third time in a week this evening, in an attempt to quell the growing chorus of voices who have been critical of his actions.
Instead of travelling home to Delaware, the president remained in the White House over the weekend, holding meetings with his national security team in the situation room.
But in an essay for the New York Times, Crocker blamed the chaos on “our lack of strategic patience at critical moments, including from president Biden.”
“It has damaged our alliances, emboldened our adversaries and increased the risk to our own security. It has also flouted 20 years of work and sacrifice,” he said.
Crocker, who served under four presidents, from George H.W Bush to Obama, added: “The American disaster in Afghanistan that Mr Biden’s impatience brought about is not a disaster just for us. It has also been a huge boost for the Taliban, whose narrative now is that the believers, clad in the armour of the one true faith, have vanquished the infidels.
“Mr Biden’s strategic impatience has given a huge boost to militant Islam everywhere.”
This view was echoed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said that the decision to withdraw from the country has “every Jihadist group round the world cheering.”
Blair, who deployed British troops to Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks 20 years ago said in a lengthy essay posted over the weekend that the sudden and chaotic pullout that allowed the Taliban to reclaim power undermined everything that had been achieved in Afghanistan over the past two decades.
Blair accused Biden of being “in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars’, as if our engagement in 2021 was remotely comparable to our commitment 20 or even 10 years ago.”
“The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours,” he said.
In America, Biden is facing a barrage of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.
“There’s no way to hide it. The situation in Afghanistan is another shame on this admin,” said Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat and a Foreign Affairs Committee member.
“Withdrawal was never going to be easy but it didn’t need to come to this.”
Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat representative and Air Force veteran, added: “These past few days have been difficult to process, and not because the Taliban’s progress was surprising.
“In fact, the opposite. We sounded the alarm, and our dire warnings fell on deaf ears.”
David Axelrod, who was a senior advisor to Obama, and worked with Biden, called it “a nightmare scenario”.
“You cannot defend the execution here. This has been a disaster,” Mr Axelrod said on CNN.
“It is heartbreaking, it is depressing, and it’s a failure. And he needs to own that failure. He’s the commander in chief.”
There is growing concern inside the Democrat party about how the mishandling will play out among voters, with mid-term elections next year.
“Afghanistan definitely has entered the conversation in a big way,” said State Senator Jeff Jackson of North Carolina, an Army veteran who fought in Kandahar and is now running for the US Senate.
We’ve done six or seven town halls in the last week and Afghanistan has come up in all of them,” he told the New York Times.
“It’s pretty clear there are concerns. They’ve seen the images we’ve all seen.”
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