WASHINGTON — Neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks are lamenting the end of the war in Afghanistan leaving the country and its capital city to the same Taliban American forces displaced after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
They worry about the U.S. exit from the 20-year war zone.
“Biden's decision to withdraw has handed Afghanistan over to the Taliban and created a terrorist sanctuary,” said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., (who is the daughter for former Vice President Dick Cheney). Rep. Cheney wants the U.S. continue to support anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., is also critical of the end of the war. "Leaving Afghanistan will not stop terrorism or leave the threats we face behind. Our failure to keep our promises to our Afghan allies will be a stain on America and our history, and put us in jeopardy for generations to come," said Kinzinger.
Biden has adhered to an Aug. 31 deadline set by the Taliban for the U.S. leave Afghanistan after the quick fall of the American-backed government caught the White House and Pentagon by surprise.
Both Biden and former President Donald Trump favored ending the war, which started after the 9/11 attacks. Trump has joined in the criticisms of Biden’s handling of the war’s end.
But neocons and foreign policy hawks — who favored the Afghan and Iraq wars and opposed Trump's isolationist approaches — see faults in both the U.S withdrawal and the broader end to a war that cost $2 trillion and cost an estimated 240,000 lives.
“The Biden Administration’s exit from Afghanistan is one of the worst foreign policy decisions in American history. Just because we decided to quit fighting doesn't mean the terrorists go away. They are emboldened and reinvigorated by President Biden's horrible policy decision,” said U.S. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent.
Former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, a Republican, said Biden’s handling of the withdrawal and the chaotic end to the 20-year war will embolden rivals and terrorist groups.
“Joe Biden just completed his shameful retreat from Afghanistan, leaving American citizens and Afghan allies behind under the rule of a terrorist government. If anything happens to them, Biden is to blame,” said Haley referring to the estimated 200 to 250 Americans and scores of Afghans still in Afghanistan after the last U.S. plane left Kabul on Monday. “Not only are Russia and China enjoying Joe Biden's retreat in Afghanistan, but they're also ready to seize the moment. The implications of Joe Biden's foreign policy could be catastrophic for America.”
The U.S. has a $700 billion defense budget with another $60 billion spent on intelligence far outspending other countries in both arenas.
Before the last flight left Kabul, the U.S. conducted air and drone strikes against ISIS-K, the group alleged to have been responsible for bombings at the airport that killed 13 U.S. troops and more than 160 Afghans on Aug. 26.
The second strike on Sunday reportedly killed a family and several children in Kabul. The Pentagon said the strike took out ISIS-K bombers planning another attack at the airport.
The Pentagon said it is investigating the drone strike and reports from the Associated Press, CNN and other that several young children died in the strike and resulting explosions.
ISIS-K has emerged — at least temporarily — as a focus on the U.S. “war on terror” with Biden promising more potential strikes against the group.
Critics of the war and Biden’s handling of the retreat are also faulting the lack of a more intense focus on the drone strikes and potential deaths of young children in the strike.
“There is no proof whatever that the US strike killed two ISIS-K planners of the bomb attack. There is proof that innocent civilians were killed. Yet our media is breathlessly reporting the former and artfully concealing the latter,” said conservative writer Dinesh D'Souza.
Glenn Greenwald, a more left-wing critic of U.S. foreign policy, said the potentially deadly drone strike is a fitting end to the 20-year and U.S. occupation and media coverage of the war.
“Having military leaders bomb a residential area and wipe out an entire family including children, then watch them & their media allies lie about it (we killed only ISIS planners, no civilian casualties) is the most fitting end to the war in Afghanistan,” Greenwald said via Twitter.