Former Vice President Mike Pence blasted the Biden administration’s Afghanistan troop withdrawal Tuesday as a “foreign policy humiliation” on par with the Iran hostage crisis and dismissed efforts to cast blame on the Trump administration for the debacle.
“I was in Washington, D.C. on September 11, and the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, it’s a foreign policy humiliation unlike anything our country has endured since the Iran hostage crisis,” Pence told The Brian Kilmeade Show.
“What you’re seeing in the Biden administration I think is just an effort to shift the conversation and shift the blame from just an unspeakably poor effort to withdraw troops from Afghanistan,” Pence added. “We all want our troops to come home but not like that … What the Biden administration has done in this case by arbitrarily announcing that they were going to bring troop levels to zero by September 11 … irrespective of the situation on the ground, set this disaster in motion.”
The Biden administration has repeatedly pointed to the Trump administration negotiating a peace agreement with the Taliban in 2020, as it faces criticism over the chaotic withdrawal effort and rapid collapse of the country.
One of Trump and Biden’s few areas of agreement in 2020 was wanting to end the Afghanistan War, and Pence said there was “healthy debate” within the Trump administration over what a final agreement in Afghanistan would look like. The deal at the time included a release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners and a phased American troop withdrawal, while the Taliban were banned from allowing any foreign terrorists into the country and required to negotiate terms with the Afghan government.
By the time Trump and Pence left office, there were 2,500 U.S. troops remaining in the country. That was the least since the initial 2001 invasion, Pence noted. But he said the difference between how their team would have handled leaving was “diametrically” different from Biden’s, which has earned him criticism from around the world.
In defending the negotiations with the Taliban, Pence pointed to recent Trump foreign policy achievements at the time like destroying the Islamic State caliphate and killing Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani as giving the former president greater credibility on keeping his word.
Kilmeade noted the Afghan allies of the U.S. may have lost heart in 2021 after Biden announced the U.S. would be gone by September, as the Taliban stepped up its attacks on them with the knowledge the Americans were leaving soon.
“The difference was strength,” Pence said, when asked how things would have been different if Trump were still in power. “I have no doubt whatsoever that you would not have seen the Taliban march into Mazar-i-Sharif without consequence. You would not have seen the Taliban march into Kabul.”
The Taliban announced this week that it would not allow U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond its Aug. 31 deadline, and there are still an unknown number of Americans stranded in the country.
Pence also said U.S. troops who served and bled in Afghanistan shouldn’t be forgotten.
“The humiliating withdrawal that’s underway today, the complete mismanagement of the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, does not take anything away from the incredible service that’s taken place over the last 20 years,” he added.
“Our armed forces took the fight to al Qaeda and to the Taliban in Afghanistan, and I think we will mark the 20th anniversary of September 11 without another major terrorist event on American soil as a direct result of the service and sacrifice of those who served.”
Read the original on FoxNews.com