Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has criticized what he called President Joe Biden’s “botched exit” from Afghanistan after the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul.
The Taliban took control of the presidential palace in Kabul after President Ashraf Ghani fled the war-torn country on Sunday. It took the militants just over a week to seize control of Afghanistan after a lightning sweep that ended in the capital.
“The Biden Administration’s botched exit from Afghanistan including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership,” McConnell wrote in a statement.
In April, Biden announced he would withdraw all troops from the war-torn country. The Taliban has ever since been swiftly taking over the country.
McConnell’s latest criticism comes after his previous statement urging the Biden administration to do more amid the advances by the Taliban.
He previously called on Biden to commit to sending more troops back into Afghanistan after Aug. 31, his target date for withdrawing all soldiers from the region, and urged the president to conduct airstrikes against the Taliban in support of the Afghan forces.
In his statement, he said while the US still has “the capacity to dampen its effects,” a presence on the ground is necessary to do so.
“It did not have to happen this way. The United States had the capacity to avoid this disaster. We still have the capacity to dampen its effects, but without a presence on the ground or local partners, defending the homeland from a resurgent al Qaeda will be far more difficult,” he wrote.
He also said the “likelihood” of al-Qaeda returning “to plot attacks from Afghanistan is growing,” noting that “everyone saw this coming except the President, who publicly and confidently dismissed these threats just a few weeks ago.”
McConnell went on to say that the president is responsible for the “monumental collapse” of Kabul.
“America’s two-decade involvement in Afghanistan has had many authors. So have the strategic missteps made along the way. I have never hesitated to express myself candidly when leaders of either party threatened to put politics ahead of reality on the ground,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, several other GOP lawmakers are pinning the blame for the worsening state of affairs in Afghanistan on Biden.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) drew a comparison between images of Chinooks over Kabul evacuating embassy staff in the capital city and America’s exit from Vietnam, describing the morning’s developments “President Biden’s Saigon moment.”
Also, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Biden is “gonna have blood on his hands” for the withdrawal mission.
"They totally blew this one. They completely underestimated the strength of the Taliban,” he noted.
Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump called on Biden to “resign in disgrace” over his handling of the crisis in Afghanistan.
He also slammed the Democratic president over other issues from the crisis at the US southern border to a spike in Covid cases to Americans' economic problems.
“It is time for Joe Biden to resign in disgrace for what he has allowed to happen to Afghanistan, along with the tremendous surge in Covid, the Border catastrophe, the destruction of energy independence, and our crippled economy,” Trump, a Republican, wrote in a statement.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of the so-called war on terror. While the invasion ended the Taliban’s rule in the country back then, it is ending with the return of the group to power.