Conservatives refresh nation’s memory on Biden’s Afghanistan debacle

by Will Tubbs

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

The average American’s taste for news is a fickle thing. The new quickly becomes old and memories are soon wiped with replacement stories. 

From a political standpoint, harping far too long on any topic, even when one has the moral and pragmatic upper hand, can quickly exhaust an audience. Laser focus on any one topic, if it drags on for years, becomes noise and weakens the effect. 

With this in mind, it’s not entirely surprising that Republicans have not fixated on the disastrous American withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 since 2022. Certainly, the occasional senator or congressman on the right has raised the issue, but there has been no all-out press … until now. 

This week, the first of what figures to be several election-year efforts to reignite the anger the majority of Americans felt when first-year President Joe Biden oversaw a calamitous withdrawal that ended in the death of 13 U.S. servicemen, the abandonment of an unclear number of American citizens, the return of the Taliban, and the subsequent re-oppression of Afghan women and girls. 

One might argue that Americans left Afghanistan in the same shape they found it in the early 2000s. However, that wouldn’t be accurate. Socially, Afghanistan has effectively returned to pre-2001 status, but now the Taliban has millions upon millions of dollars in American military equipment. 

This context provided the background as Gen. Mark Milley, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Frank McKenzie, former commander of U.S. Central Command, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday. 

“On 14 August [2021], the noncombatant evacuation operation decision was made by the Department of State and the U.S. military alerted, marshaled, mobilized, and rapidly deployed faster than any military in the world could ever do,” Milley said. “It is my assessment that that decision came too late.”

The hearing served as a jumping-off point for Republicans who, after years of essentially idling on the Afghanistan issue, caused quite the media and social media curfuffle over several days. 

“Biden’s failures abroad on full display during hearing on botched Afghan withdrawal,” former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social. In a different post, Trump added, “Mark Milley is a loser who shamed us in Afghanistan and elsewhere!”

Trump was far from alone. 

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott posted on X, “Almost three years later, and still, NO ACCOUNTABILITY from @POTUS on the tragic loss of 13 brave U.S. service members, abandoned Americans and the billions of dollars in equipment left behind in Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chair of the committee, has emerged as a leading voice of opposition in the House. 

“I think somebody needs to be held accountable,” McCaul said during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “In what form that takes, we’ll see where the evidence goes in the matter.”

One would assume, given the timing of the effort, Republicans hope that, at a minimum, the American voter will hold Biden accountable at the ballot box.

While politics are certainly a factor in the uptick in Afghanistan talk on the right, it it important to note that there are altruistic reasons also connected to calls for accountability. 

The 13 U.S. servicemen lost in the waning days of America’s presence have figured heavily into conservative messaging. 

“We will never forget the sacrifices of these American heroes,” House Speaker Mike Johnson posted on X. “Their loved ones deserve answers. @RepMcCaul and @HouseForeignGOP are working to hold the Biden Administration accountable for its chaotic and reckless withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) tweeted, “Biden has blood on his hands for the fallen in Afghanistan. He owes the Gold Star families a personal apology — but he refuses to even speak to them.”

The closest Biden has come to addressing the lost servicemen has been to include them in a broader thanks to all servicemen and women in remarks last year commemorating the end of the war. 

“Today, we pause to remember the selfless service of generations of brave women and men over the course of the conflict—who, time and time again, sacrificed their own safety and security for that of their fellow Americans,” Biden said in August. “That includes the 2,461 U.S. service members who made the ultimate sacrifice, and 20,744 of their brother-and-sisters-in-arms who were wounded in action. These servicemembers dared all, risked all, and gave all to our nation. We owe them and their families a debt we can never fully repay.”

According to Republicans, this is not enough. 

“[The Gold Star families] are not happy with this president,” McCaul told Blitzer. “They don’t think he’s ever publicly apologized to them or even stated the names of their deceased, the fallen, their children who were killed that fateful day.”