President Joe Biden released a statement Saturday from the White House blaming his decision to surge U.S. troops to Afghanistan to combat the Taliban’s surging land acquisition on the policies of former President Donald Trump.
Biden said in the statement that he would send an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan to complement the 1,000 troops already in the country and the 3,000-troop surge he announced last week, a defense official told the Washington Examiner. The president said the move was necessary after he inherited a tenuous situation from the previous administration, claiming that Trump had cut a deal with the Taliban in 2019 that put them in a powerful military position. Biden also criticized Trump’s decision to roll back American forces stationed in the country.
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor, which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019, that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. forces,” Biden said in the statement. “Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500.”
Biden announced that he was raising the total number of troops in Afghanistan to 5,000 despite both Biden and Trump previously working toward withdrawing U.S. military presence in the nation.
The president said that he was forced to make a decision between honoring the deal with the Taliban established under the Trump administration and bolstering the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
“Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict,” he wrote.
Despite the surge of U.S. troops into the country, Biden wrote that he is dedicated to ending the war, saying, “I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
Trump has spoken out against Biden’s decision, slamming the president as weak and unable to display strength effectively in the face of Taliban leaders. The former president said Friday that he “personally had discussions with top Taliban leaders whereby they understood what they were doing now would not be acceptable.”
“It would have been a much different and much more successful withdrawal, and the Taliban understood that better than anyone,” he continued.
Former President George W. Bush similarly criticized the Biden administration’s policies in Afghanistan.
“I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm” after the troops leave Afghanistan, the former Republican president said last month. “It’s unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban.”
On Friday, retired Army Gen. David Petraeus called the situation an “enormous national security setback.”
“Those who made that decision have to own it and the consequences of it,” he told Rita Cosby of WABC about Biden’s planned drawdown of troops, adding the situation in Afghanistan was “tragic, regrettable, [and] frankly preventable.”
The Taliban have advanced quickly as part of a weekslong blitz to capture land in Afghanistan. As of Friday, the group seized the second- and third-largest cities in the nation, prompting the Biden administration to urge the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Last week, Biden announced his initial plan to surge 3,000 troops to Afghanistan. This figure was raised in Saturday’s announcement that 5,000 U.S. troops total would be assigned to the region.