During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union this Sunday morning, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) starkly criticized the decisions made by the Trump administration that preceded the currently unfolding situation in Afghanistan. Although Romney also went after choices by the Biden team, the Senator pointed out how the Trump administration opted to negotiate directly with the Taliban, with whom they eventually struck a deal to withdraw the U.S. military presence from Afghanistan. These negotiations, this deal, and public remarks made by Trump and Mike Pompeo around that time essentially elevated the Taliban, as did the Trump administration’s decision to pressure local authorities to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. Now, the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan.
Trump and allies of his have singled out the Biden administration for criticism over recent developments in Afghanistan, but Trump is the one who struck a withdrawal deal with the Taliban! Biden has indicated that he felt as though the only two viable options in the wake of that deal were going through with the withdrawal or escalating the fighting.
On CNN, Romney commented as follows:
‘Leaving Americans behind, and leaving our Afghan friends behind who worked with us, would put upon us and will put upon us a moral stain. This is the result of very ineffective decisions, terrible decisions made by the prior administration and by the current administration. This did not have to happen. It was preventable… We didn’t have to be in this rush-rush circumstance with terrorists breathing down our neck. But it’s really the responsibility of the prior administration and this administration that has caused this crisis to be upon us and has led to what is without question a humanitarian and foreign policy tragedy.’
To be clear, Americans are not assuredly going to be “left behind” in the sense of getting left without support from the Biden administration for their departure from Afghanistan. Over 110,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan, and evacuation efforts are ongoing.
Meanwhile, Romney added as follows:
‘We’re in the position we’re in right now because of terrible decisions made by two administrations. One, the Trump administration negotiating directly with the Taliban, getting ready to invite them to Camp David, opening up a prison of 5,000 Taliban and probably ISIS-K individuals, and letting them free. We don’t know whether some of them were involved in the attack that occurred. These were the decisions that led to what you’re seeing and the danger that exists at the airport.’
The attack to which Romney referred was a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, which claimed many lives including those of 13 U.S. service members. The airport is where evacuation efforts have been based. On CNN, Romney also criticized the Biden administration for shutting down Bagram Air Base ahead of this point in the withdrawal. Check out the Utah Senator’s comments below:
“This is the result of very ineffective decisions by the prior administration and the current administration,” Republican Sen. Mitt Romney says about Afghanistan. https://t.co/6xshdpUYTG #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/VqTy5gjdA2
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 29, 2021