UK Parliament Holds Biden in Contempt for Afghanistan Withdrawal

The U.K. Parliament / Wikimedia Commons
August 19, 2021

The United Kingdom's Parliament on Wednesday held President Joe Biden in contempt for his withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, calling the move "catastrophic" and "shameful."

Members of Parliament, including some who served alongside U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, accused Biden of "throwing us and everybody else to the fire" with his decision to withdraw. They also attacked Biden for his "shameful" criticism of the Afghan National Army and said it was "dishonourable" to blame Afghanistan's fighting force for the Taliban's takeover.

"Those who have never fought for the colours they fly should be careful about criticising those who have," said Tom Tugendhat, a British Army veteran of the Afghanistan war and the Conservative chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Biden is one of only a few U.S. presidents who have not served in the military.

After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Biden said he stood "squarely behind" his decision to pull out, adding that "there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces." He blamed Afghanistan's president and military for the collapse of the country.

"American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war, and dying in a war, that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves," Biden said.

The withdrawal led to panic in Kabul, the capital city, on Monday, as thousands of Afghans flooded the Hamid Karzai International Airport, hoping to evacuate from Kabul. Some desperately clung to U.S. aircraft as they took off. One was found dead in a cargo jet's wheel well. Two others fell to their deaths as the planes took off. Some Afghan mothers on Thursday even began throwing their babies over barbed wire fences as they shouted at British troops to save them from the Taliban.

The swift takeover has prompted protests by Afghans in Kabul and other cities. The Taliban has killed some participants by firing on the crowds.

More than 8,000 people have been flown out of Kabul this week. Biden said Wednesday that the U.S. military may stay in the nation past his administration's Aug. 31 deadline to evacuate more Americans. But troops do not have the capability to aid anyone beyond Kabul's airport, he said.