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  • Writer's pictureDavid M. Rubin


Updated: Oct 20, 2021

Just before the deadly explosion at the Kabul airport that took the lives of thirteen Americans, Senator Tim Scott and some of his Republican colleagues sent an accusatory letter to President Biden demanding answers to fourteen questions about the administration's strategy in Afghanistan.

They wanted to know Biden's plan for evacuating Americans and Afghan allies; how the administration could guarantee that Afghanistan would not become a host to terrorists again; how Biden planned to get American military equipment out of the country before the Taliban and other enemies grabbed it; whether Biden would support Afghan resistance groups; and a lot more.

These are not foolish questions, but they are 16 months late. This letter ought to have been sent to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in February of 2020. That is when Trump and Pompeo chose to "end" this war in a catastrophic non-peace treaty with the Taliban. As is their habit, Scott and the Republicans are now trying to rewrite history and to hide from it, casting blame everywhere but on themselves.

Trump's second national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, said recently that the current collapse in Kabul "goes back to the capitulation agreement of 2020. The Taliban didn't defeat us. We defeated ourselves."

Note his use of the word "capitulation." Trump, the self-proclaimed king of the deal, gave away the store. He and Pompeo were snookered by the Taliban. All Trump got in this "peace" deal was a promise that the Taliban would not attack U.S. troops and that they would negotiate in good faith with the Afghan government.

No one believed such negotiations would occur, and they didn't. Rather, the Taliban pressed their offensive, leading to the rapid collapse of the Afghan military on which we wasted so much time and money.

Trump wanted out before the November 2020 election because he thought it would help him win. He bent everything in his administration to that end, including a phony "peace deal" that guaranteed precisely the end-game that Biden inherited and tried to manage.

I searched for any sign of a letter Scott wrote to Trump and Pompeo about this "capitulation" in February, 2020, when such a letter might have been worth something. Funny, I couldn't find it. Scott's comfort zone is to blame it all on Biden.

Indeed, in a statement issued on August 27, Scott falsely alleged it was Biden who capitulated to the Taliban, not Trump.

Here is the truth of what confronted Biden when he took office:

He inherited a "negotiated" May 1 pullout date and just 2500 troops. With this tiny military force, his critics think he should have safely evacuated tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans. Remember, Afghanistan has 38 million people scattered over 252,000 square miles. That works out to one American to police 100 square miles. On its face this is an absurd expectation, but the Trump/Pompeo team left that problem to Biden.

In fact, Biden should be commended for the largest airlift in decades, rescuing more than 110,000 Americans and Afghans in a few weeks.

In his August 27 statement after the deadly airport attack, Scott demanded that Biden "reverse course and dispatch all military resources necessary to ensure the safety of every American and our allies." While he doesn't have the courage to say it directly, Scott was asking for another "surge" of tens of thousands of American troops to once again try to secure the country. This time, however, neither the Taliban nor Isis would hold its fire, and far more than thirteen Americans would be killed.

Further, while expressing concern for the Americans and Afghans left inside the country, Scott apparently doesn't know that Trump's own aides have admitted Trump did no planning for an orderly evacuation of any sort, and his State Department was slow-walking the visa process for our Afghan allies. None of this should surprise Trump watchers. The likelihood of a second Trump administration successfully extricating 110,000 Americans and Afghans is zero.

Scott should be forced to run in November of 2022 as the senator who urged a robust return to Afghanistan. Public opinion polls show this is a deeply unpopular position. He will, of course, abandon it as soon as the public isn't watching. But for today, a return to Afghanistan is his policy.

What the voting public must remember is that Scott played partisan political games as Americans and Afghans died in the tragic conclusion orchestrated by Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants, Scott included. The shame and responsibility are theirs.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Blogger David M. Rubin is the former Dean of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He is a former columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard and an expert on First Amendment law (speech and press). He lives in Summerville.

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