Were Biden’s hands really tied by Trump’s agreement with the Taliban?

Were Biden’s hands really tied by Trump’s agreement with the Taliban?
Image: YouTube screen grab via The Hill

In the question-and-answer period that followed Joe Biden’s news conference on the evening of the suicide attack at the Kabul airport, he was reminded of his earlier claim that the buck stops here and asked, “Do you bear any responsibility for the way that things have unfolded in the last two weeks?”

Biden’s answer was interesting. “I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that’s happened of late,” he said before hastily adding:

But here’s the deal: You know — I wish you’d one day say these things — you know as well as I do that the former President made a deal with the Taliban that he would get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1.

Nothing says sincerity better than accepting full responsibility for something that went south and then in the next breath blaming it on someone else. This is what Biden has done ever since Kabul fell to the Taliban. Time and again, he has attempted to shirk blame for his own mangling of the withdrawal by insisting his hands were tied by the peace deal the Trump administration signed with the Taliban in February 2020.

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But according to the Associated Press:

… Biden can go only so far in claiming the agreement boxed him in. It had an escape clause: The U.S. could have withdrawn from the accord if Afghan peace talks failed. They did, but Biden chose to stay in it, although he delayed the complete pullout from May to September.

Chris Miller, acting defense secretary in the final months of the Trump administration, chafed at the idea that Biden was handcuffed by the agreement.

“If he thought the deal was bad, he could have renegotiated. He had plenty of opportunity to do that if he so desired,” Miller, a top Pentagon counterterrorism official at the time the Doha deal was signed, said in an interview.

The piece goes on to acknowledge that that course of action may have led to difficulties of its own, but Biden should have been able to rely on the decades of foreign-policy experience he has boasted as having to craft a better deal.

However you slice it, Biden owns Afghanistan, and that’s how history, despite his ongoing efforts to rewrite it, will record what went down.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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