‘The Trump-Biden doctrine of weakness’: Senator takes aim at both presidents for mishandling Afghanistan

Republican critics of the former president are holding him as accountable as Joe Biden for the Afghan disaster

Andrew Naughtie
Monday 16 August 2021 20:05
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Joe Biden’s predictions of the consequences of withdrawal have proven disastrously wrong

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Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican who has long been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump, has turned his fire on both the current and previous presidents as the crisis in Afghanistan deepens by the hour.

In a statement, the Nebraska senator said that “the unmitigated disaster in Afghanistan – the shameful, Saigon-like abandonment of Kabul, the brutalization of Afghan women, and the slaughter of our allies – is the predictable outcome of the Trump-Biden doctrine of weakness.

“History must be clear about this: American troops didn’t lose this war – Donald Trump and Joe Biden deliberately decided to lose.”

Mr Sasse’s damning words parallel those coming from the few other Republican members of Congress who are prepared to criticise both the Biden and Trump administrations. Leading the charge have been Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, both scorned by their party leadership for consistently going against Mr Trump in recent years.

Mr Sasse has spared Mr Biden no criticism, writing in a National Review op-ed on Monday: “This bloodshed wasn’t just predictable, it was predicted. For months, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have warned the Biden administration that this would happen. Now the administration is acting like this is a surprise. It’s shameful, dishonest spin.”

However, in the same piece, Mr Sasse gives no quarter to those seeking to frame this as Mr Biden’s failure alone.

“The sad thing is, many in my party are trying to blame-shift as if the last administration didn’t set us on this course,” he writes. “Here’s the ugly truth: Neither party is serious about foreign policy. For a decade now, demagogues have lied to the American people about our mission in Afghanistan. President Trump pioneered the strategy of retreat President Biden is pursuing, to disastrous effect.”

Mr Sasse has carved out a reputation as not just a critic of Mr Trump but also a major China hawk, and in his article, he makes it clear he is particularly incensed by the signal that the withdrawal sends to other major powers about the US’ strength and dependability.

“China and Russia will look to capitalise on Biden’s weakness and incompetence, too,” he warns. “Their message is simple: Why should Ukraine or Taiwan put any faith in the United States after seeing how Washington has abandoned its allies in Afghanistan? America’s enemies are salivating at the thought of taking advantage of the president who surrendered in the War on Terror.”

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