Obama's ambassador to Afghanistan slams Joe Biden, calls crisis a 'self-inflicted wound'
Former Afghan ambassador adds to the rising criticism of Joe Biden, says Taliban takeover is 'self-inflicted wound' on US foreign policy
Former diplomats have joined the scores of people piling on the pressure on President Joe Biden after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Former Afghanistan Ambassador Ryan Crocker, an Obama-era appointee slammed the current administration on August 16 for the situation in the country. He also raised concerns about Biden's ability to lead.
Shortly after Kabul capitulated to Taliban control, Donald Trump was one of the first to call for Biden's resignation. Shortly after, Mike Pompeo slammed the "weak American leadership," for the crisis, and said, "they've been focused on critical race theory while the embassy is at risk." Former servicemen have also piled on the pressure, with iconic Marine Staff Sergeant William Bee weighing in via an interview with The Daily Mail.
The president attempted to deflect some of the criticism, blaming the Afghan army and government for "giving up". The deflection seems to have done little to help Biden, as the criticism keeps pouring in. Adding to his woes, it now appears even diplomats are joining the campaign. Crocker, a veteran who headed the Kabul embassy twice didn't mince his words when it came to reflecting on the fall of Kabul. His scathing criticism echoes a lot of talking points made by Bee, Pompeo, and others.
Fall of Kabul a 'self-inflicted wound'
Crocker offered his thoughts on Kabul in an August 16 interview with The Spokesman-Review, a Spokane, Washington-based paper. "I think the direction was predictable; the trajectory was not. What President Biden has done is to embrace the Afghan policy of President Trump, and this is the outcome," he said. Like Bee, Crocker was quick to emphasize the fall was a result of decades-long US policy, not Biden alone. "We’ve spent the last almost two years delegitimizing the Afghan government and its security forces," he said. "It has destroyed the morale of the government and certainly of its security forces."
Crocker believes the US "effectively sided with the Taliban," when it cut the elected Afghan government out of peace talks under Trump. "It is not exactly a climate in which these young troopers can be reasonably expected to hold that line, having been sold out by us." Since the Taliban began its offensive earlier this year, Afghan forces have reportedly deserted in large numbers, leaving the nation open to takeover.
Policy aside, Crocker also noted the lack of a proper withdrawal plan as a key element that helped the Taliban succeed. The predictable collapse of Afghan forces without air support suggested "a total lack of coordinated, post-withdrawal planning on our part," he said. Crocker added, "That’s why this is all so sad. It is a self-inflicted wound." Over the last two years, as US forces have begun drawing down from Afghanistan, airstrikes also greatly reduced, enabling the Taliban to run over government-run areas, with little fear of retaliation.
'A lot of people are going to die'
The veteran diplomat first served as the head of the Kabul embassy after diplomatic relations were reestablished in 2001. In 2011, Obama called him out of retirement to take on the role for a year. Having spent considerable time in the country, and in diplomacy overall, Crocker was also doubtful about Afghanistan's future. "We’re going to pay for that for a long time to come, and that’s why it is insane – just idiotic – to think that we can tell the Taliban that if they don’t stop taking over territory and play nice, the international community will withhold recognition and support. The Taliban really doesn’t care, because they’ve got something far more valuable," he said.
"We have seen this movie before," he added. "This would be the Taliban of the 1990s that gave safe haven to al-Qaida, except they’re meaner and tougher than they were then because of what they’ve been through." He was also concerned about the coming violence. " I’m afraid a lot of people are going to die," he noted. "As the Taliban moves into different cities and towns, they’ve got their hit list. So it’s going to be messy, it’s going to be incomplete and more people are going to die."
Crocker concluded his interview by questioning Biden, saying, "I’m left with some grave questions in my mind about his ability to lead our nation as commander-in-chief. To have read this so wrong – or, even worse, to have understood what was likely to happen and not care." Having served as Obama's VP, it seems inconceivable to imagine Biden not understanding the consequences of his actions, which he has firmly stood by.