North Carolina’s federal lawmakers criticize President Biden’s remarks about Afghanistan collapse

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — North Carolina’s federal lawmakers have criticized President Joe Biden’s ongoing decisions regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan following a Taliban takeover.

Biden addressed the nation Monday to double-down on his decision to continue withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan, placing the blame on political leaders in Afghanistan who “gave up and fled the country” and a collapse of the Afghanistan military. The U.S. embassy was fully evacuated by Sunday evening following the takeover, and Biden said Monday 6,000 troops will be deployed to continue withdrawing U.S. personnel.

Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican and former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he did not agree with Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces as he was concerned his administration, like former President Donald Trump’s administration, had not fully considered the consequences of doing so prematurely. He criticized the current administration for not presenting Congress and the American people with a plan.

“It is now abundantly clear there was no plan,” Burr said. “Determined to follow an arbitrary timeline based on messaging rather than military priorities, this administration’s callous negligence directly contributed to this catastrophic failure. In fact, the only person who seems to believe this situation couldn’t have been prevented is the president who bears responsibility for it.”

Burr said Biden’s decision left the nation’s allies to fend for themselves amid a growing humanitarian crisis, leaving the nation’s credibility “tattered” and promises broken.

Similarly, Sen. Thom Tillis, another Republican, criticized the nation’s commander-in-chief for creating a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and deflecting responsibility.

“The American people will care that President Biden was repeatedly warned by military leaders that his arbitrary and inflexible withdrawal would be an unmitigated disaster and he ignored them,” Tillis said. “The American people will care that President Biden’s reckless abandonment paves the path for the reconstitution of al-Qaeda and other terrorists in Afghanistan, who will once again try to target and murder Americans. As noted by our top generals, it’s a matter of when, not if.”

Tillis also said he had serious concerns with the withdrawal under Trump’s administration as well, but “also understood we could not stay in Afghanistan forever.”

“There is also a right way and a wrong way to withdraw,” Tillis said. “Biden chose the wrong way, setting his own arbitrary deadline and having no plan in place to ensure our withdrawal would be safe, orderly and based on conditions on the ground.”

Calling for more transparency, Tillis said all presidents make mistakes, but “this is a grave one.”

“But the testament of a good leader is to acknowledge their mistake and work to correct it,” Tillis said. “President Biden instead chose to hide when things got tough, and then deflected all responsibility after he was shamed into finally addressing the nation after a week of silence.”

Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican who represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District encompassing Rowan County, shared his thoughts via Twitter following Biden’s speech Monday. Budd called what’s unfolding in Afghanistan “a national embarrassment.”

“America in retreat. The sacrifice of our brave soldiers wasted. Our friends left high & dry. Innocent women & children brutalized. President Biden’s weakness allowed this situation to devolve into disaster,” his tweet stated.

Budd is currently seeking the open U.S. Senate seat for North Carolina in 2022, when Burr’s term expires. In July, Budd received an endorsement from Trump. In a follow-up tweet, Budd referenced the previous administration, stating that America “used to have a president that put America first & showed strength to our enemies.”

“There is no way our country would be facing such a catastrophe if President Trump was conducting the orderly exit from Afghanistan he planned as commander in chief,” Budd’s tweet stated.

Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican who represents North Carolina’s 8th congressional district that included Rowan County before the 2020 election, said Biden did not say anywhere in his remarks that his administration takes responsibility for “completely botching the withdrawal.”

“He also failed to lay out any plan to now protect those people and assets, even as troops from Fort Bragg are hastily deployed back into harm’s way to deal with this self-inflicted chaos,” Hudson said in a statement. “The president’s lack of preparation and understanding of the current fallout and furor is an abject failure.”