Speed Reads

shared blame

GOP lawmakers suggest Biden, Trump both bear responsibility for Afghanistan's fate

"History must be clear about this: American troops didn't lose" the war in Afghanistan, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement on Sunday, as the Taliban surrounded Kabul and the U.S. Embassy was primed for evacuation. "[Former President] Donald Trump and [President] Joe Biden deliberately decided to lose."

Sasse wasn't the only Republican lawmaker who suggested Sunday that Biden and Trump both deserve criticism for how the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan has ended. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told ABC News' Jon Karl on This Week that Biden "absolutely bears responsibility" for making the final decision to withdraw U.S. troops by August 31, which freed up space for the Taliban's rapid offensive. But, she added, "there is no question that President Trump, his administration, [Former Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo, they also bear very significant responsibility for this."

Cheney argued the Trump administration "walked down this path of legitimizing the Taliban, of perpetuating this fantasy, telling the American people that the Taliban were a partner for peace" and would renounce terrorism. "None of that has happened," Cheney said, adding that "what we're watching right now in Afghanistan is what happens when America withdraws from the world."

NBC News' chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel appeared to agree with Sasse and Cheney, writing that "there's lots of blame to go around." Trump, he said, set things in motion by making a "terrible deal with the Taliban," while Biden was the one who actually implemented it.