Rep. Liz Cheney said Sunday that the Taliban’s rapid-fire military triumph in Afghanistan was a disaster that “did not have to happen.”
“It’s inexcusable,” said Cheney (R-Wyo.) on ABC’s “This Week.”
Cheney, for whom the war in Afghanistan is part of her family’s political legacy, said the United States had failed the people of Afghanistan — and that its recent actions would make the nation’s allies doubt whether they can trust the United States.
“This disaster, the catastrophe that we’re watching unfold right now across Afghanistan did not have to happen,” she said. “It’s not just that people predicted this would happen; everyone was warned that this would happen. We’ve now created a situation where as we get to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are surrendering Afghanistan to the terrorist organization that housed al Qaeda when they plotted and planned the attacks against us.”
On Saturday, Cheney blamed both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump for the current crisis in Afghanistan. “The Trump/Biden calamity unfolding in Afghanistan began with the Trump administration negotiating with terrorists and pretending they were partners for peace, and is ending with American surrender as Biden abandons the country to our terrorist enemies,” she tweeted.
She reiterated in the interview with ABC host Jonathan Karl that both presidents deserved blame for the debacle.
“President Biden bears responsibility for making the decision,” she said. “There’s no question that President Trump, his administration, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo, they also bear very significant responsibility for this. They walked down this path of legitimizing the Taliban, of perpetuating this fantasy, telling the American people that the Taliban were a partner for peace. President Trump told us the Taliban was going to fight terror. Secretary Pompeo told us the Taliban was going to renounce al Qaeda. None of that has happened.”
Cheney’s father, Dick Cheney, was vice president in 2001 when the U.S. launched an invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. That invasion ousted the Taliban and drove Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda into the mountains of Pakistan, though the Taliban was able to regroup and extend fighting over the next two decades. Bin Laden was assassinated by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011.
Twenty years of U.S. support had failed to provide stability or prosperity to the Asian nation, nor extinguished the threat from the Taliban. But Cheney said that those who claim the U.S. departure from this war was overdue because total victory was never going to be attainable didn’t see the situation correctly.
“This is not ending the war. What this is doing actually is perpetuating it,” she argued.