Mid-South lawmakers criticize Afghanistan withdrawal as Biden defends decision

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 5:35 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In a televised speech on Tuesday, President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.

But the president’s speech did little to temper criticism from lawmakers, including those in the Mid-South.

“I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit,” Biden said.

The president also defended his administration’s handling of the evacuation effort.

“Leaving August 31st is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives,” Biden said.

The president also said it was time to stop using American troops to remake other countries.

While many Democrats praised the president’s decision, saying he accomplished something three previous presidents didn’t, Republicans like Tennessee Congressman David Kustoff called the president’s withdrawal “a disaster.”

“We did not want this to look like Saigon in 1975. We didn’t want this withdrawal to look like 46 years ago. This looks worse,” said Kustoff.

Kustoff says the president needs to provide more answers.

Kustoff wants to know more about how the decision to withdraw was made and why some Americans, and Afghans who helped Americans, were left behind.

“Why did we leave them behind? Why did the military leave Afghanistan first before we got our men and women out, our folks at the embassy and our allies in Afghanistan?” asked Kustoff. “The order should have been reversed. We should have gotten them out and then the military leaves.”

Other Mid-South lawmakers are asking those same questions.

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn is even calling for the president, vice president, and other top members of the administration to resign after 13 U.S. service members were killed in Kabul last week.

“It’s time for accountability, starting with those whose failed planning allowed these attacks to occur,” said Blackburn. “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken, Lloyd Austin, and Mark Milley should all resign or face impeachment and removal from office.”

Two of those soldiers have connections to the Mid-South.

31-year-old Marine Sgt. Taylor Hoover is the nephew of a Crittenden County pastor, and 23-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss was from east Tennessee.

Mississippi U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the withdrawal was one of the worst foreign policy decisions in U.S. history.

“I will continue to hold President Biden accountable for this clumsy and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. His betrayal of our Afghan allies will go down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history,” said Wicker.

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