Former Vice President Mike Pence claimed Tuesday that President Joe Biden reneged on the cease-fire deal his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, agreed with the Taliban in February 2020, setting the stage for what Pence called “a foreign-policy humiliation unlike anything our country has endured since the Iran hostage crisis.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pence claimed that by the time the 45th president left office, “the Afghan government and the Taliban each controlled their respective territories, neither was mounting major offensives, and America had only 2,500 U.S. troops in the country—the smallest military presence since the war began in 2001.”
The key provisions of the agreement — described as “foolhardy” in the pages of The Post by Rich Lowry last month — included the US withdrawing all combat forces from Afghanistan by May of this year, the Taliban denying safe haven to terror groups, the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces held by the Taliban, and the beginning of comprehensive peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Western-backed Afghan government.
In Tuesday’s op-ed, Pence credited the agreement with the fact that the US “has not suffered a single combat casualty” in Afghanistan in 18 months.
However, when Biden took office in January, Pence argued, he violated the agreement by announcing that US forces would remain in Afghanistan past the May 1 deadline “without a clear reason for doing so.”
“There was no plan to transport the billions of dollars worth of American equipment recently captured by the Taliban, or evacuate the thousands of Americans now scrambling to escape Kabul, or facilitate the regional resettlement of the thousands of Afghan refugees who will now be seeking asylum in the U.S. with little or no vetting,” Pence continued. “Rather, it seems that the president simply didn’t want to appear to be abiding by the terms of a deal negotiated by his predecessor.”
After Biden broke the deal, in Pence’s telling, the Taliban launched their ultimate offensive because, as he put it, “[t]hey knew there was no credible threat of force under this president.”
“Weakness arouses evil—and the magnitude of evil now rising in Afghanistan speaks volumes about the weaknesses of Mr. Biden,” Pence warned.
“After 20 years, more than 2,400 American deaths, 20,000 Americans wounded, and over $2 trillion spent, the American people are ready to bring our troops home,” the former vice president concluded. “But the manner in which Mr. Biden has executed this withdrawal is a disgrace, unworthy of the courageous American service men and women whose blood still stains the soil of Afghanistan.”
Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, took issue with the op-ed, accusing Pence on Twitter of “major gaslighting.”
“The Taliban planned to begin its winning offensive for May 1, the withdrawal date enshrined in Trump’s deal,” Joscelyn argued in the first post of a Twitter thread. “The Taliban didn’t comply with the counterterrorism provisions or hold real talks with the Afghan government.”
Joscelyn went on to claim that in lieu of targeting Americans, the Taliban “turned all of its guns on the Afghans in a campaign to win the war” while Trump and then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “portrayed the Taliban as America’s counterterrorism partner.”
“Biden owns this chaotic withdrawal. The incompetence on display is obvious for all to see and deserves to be criticized,” Joscelyn summed up. “But Trump’s deal with the Taliban was rubbish – perhaps the weakest diplomacy in U.S. history. The Taliban was glad to watch the U.S. retreat.”
Pence has largely remained out of the political spotlight since leaving the vice presidency earlier this year. He published another op-ed in May, this one in National Review, criticizing Biden’s foreign policy in the midst of the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.
In June, he revealed that he has spoken “many times” with Trump since leaving office and admitted that he doesn’t know “if we’ll ever see eye to eye” on the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which erupted after Pence ignored Trump’s entreaties to throw out the result of the previous year’s presidential election.
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