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President, Predecessor Play the Blame Game

Biden, Trump are publicly criticizing each other over Afghanistan
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2021 1:17 PM CDT
Biden, Trump Play the Blame Game
This combination of September 2020 shows then-President Trump and Joe Biden during a presidential debate in Cleveland.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(Newser) – As the finger-pointing continues over Afghanistan, two men whose decisions helped get us here are taking potshots at each other. That would be President Biden and former President Trump. Coverage:

  • Trump: The former president has unloaded on Biden in a series of statements, including one on Monday: “Afghanistan is the most embarrassing military outcome in the history of the United States," he said, per the Hill. "It didn’t have to be that way!” On Sunday, he called on Biden to "resign in disgrace," per Newsweek.
  • Biden: Over the weekend, Biden told the nation that Trump's decision-making while in office—particularly the deal Trump cut with the Taliban—had essentially boxed him in. "When I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict." He said he chose the former, rather than "pass this war" to a fifth president. (Biden will speak later Monday afternoon.)
  • Pushback: The Hill quotes a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who is puzzled by Biden's explanation there. "He has undone plenty of Trump administration policies, and he definitely could've undone this one as well if he had chosen to," says Emily Harding. "Biden signaled early on he wanted to get us out of Afghanistan."

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  • That was then: When Biden announced his September withdrawal deadline in April, Trump said it was the right thing to do but that the US "should get out earlier," notes Axios.
  • Page scrubbed: Dave Weigel of the Washington Post reports via tweet that the GOP has deleted a web page praising Trump's "historic peace agreement with the Taliban." Gizmodo notes that the page, which originally went up last year, is archived here.
  • Civilians: On Monday, Trump called attention to the plight of Afghan civilians trying to get out. "Can anyone even imagine taking out our Military before evacuating civilians and others who have been good to our Country and who should be allowed to seek refuge?" Trump wrote. "Under my administration, all civilians and equipment would have been removed." Forbes suggests that his emphasis on refugees appears to break from the views held by allies including Stephen Miller, who has spoken out against the idea of bringing in Afghan refugees.
  • Blame for both? Over the weekend, GOP Rep. Liz Cheney declared on ABC News that Biden "absolutely" bears responsibility for the mess in Afghanistan. But so, too, does his predecessor, she added. "There is no question that President Trump, his administration, Secretary Pompeo, they also bear very significant responsibility for this."
(Read more President Biden stories.)

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