By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — President Joe Biden’s Afghanistan fiasco is the latest and severest example of the administration’s foreign policy weakness, exposed for all the world to see, members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation say.
“As Obama administration defense secretary Robert Gates said, Joe Biden ‘has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.’ The first six months of this administration has been one disaster after the other,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh).
Still, as Kabul collapses and the horrifyingly tragic scenes play out eerily similar to the fall of Saigon nearly a half century ago, Biden stands by the disaster that will in many ways define his presidency.
“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said Monday at a hastily called press conference at which he stumbled over the teleprompter script and then left without taking a single question from the press.
While the president attempted to sound like Harry Truman, declaring “the buck stops with me,” he spent most of the short press conference blaming others for the failures in Afghanistan.
Certainly the mess of two decades that was a major front in the war on terror didn’t all happen on Biden’s watch. But he owns the bitter consequences of his breathtaking abandonment, according to U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville.)
“The mishandled withdrawal from Afghanistan is a tragic disaster. President Biden’s absentee leadership, flawed decision making, and lack of a thoughtful plan for withdrawal from the region created this crisis,” the congressman said. “President Biden’s own words show how badly he misjudged the situation. My thoughts are with our troops in Afghanistan and the Americans still in harm’s way.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Mequon) said the conflict and the troubles therein have raged for four presidential administrations — two Republican, two Democrat. And it all began when then-Sen. Joe Biden voted in September 2001 to authorize military force in Afghanistan.
“Even so, the fact of the matter is that we are well into President Biden’s term of office, and he alone bears responsibility for allowing this conflict to collapse into total chaos – lacking any clear contingency plan, or even a basic understanding of the reality of the situation on the ground,” Tiffany said. He added that the Biden Pentagon has been more focused on “foolish distractions and destructive efforts that seek to treat our armed forces as a Petri dish to conduct social experiments” than on defense.
Tiffany and other lawmakers say the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, many of whom sacrificed their lives and limbs in Afghanistan, are owed a debt of gratitude none of their fellow citizens can ever repay.
State Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc), a veteran who has spent a lot of time in Iraq and has been on the ground in Afghanistan, said he’s worried those same service members will blame themselves.
“What pisses me off about this is that the politicians, people like me, put people in harm’s way. They take a vote and send people off to places like Afghanistan. Unfortunately, if the mission is not complete they blame themselves, they feel like they have failed,” said Kurtz, who has served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army as a Cobra helicopter pilot and crash scene investigator. “That is the furthest thing from the truth. Our politicians and our foreign policy failed.”