Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, recalls the first anniversary of the Afghanistan Bugout. Then, as now, are adversaries were watching. Can you say “Taipei?” I knew you could.
One year ago, 13 service members gave their lives for our country in Kabul.
God bless our brave men and women in uniform.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) August 26, 2022
Scott: One year ago, on August 26, thirteen brave United States service members—11 Marines, one Army soldier, and one member of the Navy—lost their lives in a terrorist attack in Kabul. These men and women were killed while protecting U.S. citizens, assets, and allies from a Taliban siege during President Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was one of the single deadliest days in the 20-year history of the war. The horror of that day was followed by words of condolence for their loved ones, posthumously honoring the fallen with the Congressional Gold Medal, and a vow from the president that the ISIS affiliate responsible for the attack would pay.
That promise for revenge seemed to be fulfilled when Biden announced just days later that a drone strike targeted and killed ISIS-K forces responsible for the attack. The president and his team celebrated, calling it a “righteous strike.” But, as it turns out, the president and his team got it wrong. In the months to follow, reporting and eventually-declassified surveillance footage proved that the retaliatory strike killed 10 innocent people—seven of which were just children.
While the president and his team have acknowledged the grave mistake that was made, members of Congress and the American people have received little to no cooperation from the administration in their effort to get answers about the strike. The lack of accountability betrays a broader unwillingness to answer for any of their failures—the overall chaos of the withdrawal, the Americans left behind, and the lack of a plan for the future. To this day, President Biden continues to blame the previous administration and the Afghan government for the crisis he created.
Not only has he not acknowledged his blunders, but on August 30, 2021, President Biden called the withdrawal an “extraordinary success.” Echoing the president’s message at the time, to this day the administration continues to double down on the idea that the chaos was unavoidable. They’ve created a false choice between a forever war and the disastrous evacuation the world witnessed.
The role of commander-in-chief requires strong leaders willing to make the hard choices. When President Biden announced a planned withdrawal by the twenty-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the decision was motivated by messaging rather than sound strategy rooted in U.S. national security priorities. The president made clear that his goal was to notch what he expected to be a major foreign policy win for him and a show of strength to the world. Instead, the resulting chaos sent the exact opposite message.
Adversaries, bullies, and dictators around the world watched as U.S. military personnel and allies scrambled to evacuate due to poor planning. They saw the Taliban roll back many hard-fought wins America and our allies secured over the course of two decades. They assessed that weak leadership from the White House opened the door to opportunity.