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Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker is concerned about President Joe Biden’s “ability to lead our nation as commander in chief” after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops.
During an interview for The Spokesman-Review, Crocker said, “I am left with some serious questions in my mind about his ability to lead our nation as commander in chief.” The official headed the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from 2002 to 2003, and then in 2011 to 2012.
He felt that the collapse of Afghan forces amid the withdrawal of American troops was the result of “a total lack of coordinated post-withdrawal planning on our part,” he said, and “that’s why this is all so sad, it’s a self-inflicted wound.”
The former ambassador told The Spokesman-Review that the direction of the Taliban’s military offensive was predictable, but the trajectory was not.
He recalled Biden’s decision to continue with former President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw all troops from the region, following the February 2020 agreement signed by Trump himself with the Taliban. That agreement sought to begin the process of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan while keeping the Taliban with a series of conditions.
“What President Biden has done is to embrace the Afghan policy of President Trump, and this is the outcome,” Crocker noted.
On Aug. 15, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani fled his country as the Taliban seized Kabul after taking over major cities.
Biden defended his decision to withdraw troops from the region and said during a speech to the nation on Monday, “I fully agree with my decision.”
However, the president admitted that the situation in Afghanistan “developed more rapidly than we anticipated.”
Crocker, who also served as ambassador to five other countries during his career, told The Spokesman–Review that the Afghan government was delegitimized by the U.S. withdrawal effort.
“We’ve spent the last almost two years delegitimizing the Afghan government and its security forces. It has destroyed the morale of the government and certainly of its security forces,” he stressed.
“It is not exactly a climate in which these young troopers can be reasonably expected to hold that line, having been sold out by us,” he added.
Ryan Crocker concluded by saying that the Taliban who took control of Afghanistan are the same ones from “the Taliban of the 1990s that gave safe haven to Al-Qaeda, except they’re meaner and tougher than they were then because of what they’ve been through.”