Former President Donald Trump criticized President Joe Biden’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during a campaign-style rally in Arizona on Saturday evening.
Speaking to supporters in Florence, Arizona, Trump criticized Biden and his administration over a range of topics including inflation, supply chain issues, and vaccine mandates. Trump also criticized Biden’s handling of foreign policy issues, particularly attacking the evacuation efforts from Afghanistan throughout August of 2021.
Throughout the summer of 2021, Taliban forces overwhelmed U.S.-backed Afghan government forces and rapidly seized control over large swaths of the country. The Taliban even marched into the Afghan capital city of Kabul as U.S. forces were still finishing their withdrawal from the country. The rapid collapse of the Afghan government forced the military to speed up its withdrawal efforts, while also taking on the task of overseeing evacuations of U.S. diplomats, western civilians and at-risk Afghans.
During the chaotic evacuation effort, U.S. troops were forced to rely on Taliban fighters to allow civilians to pass safely through to the Kabul airport. Many civilians reported instances of being stopped by Taliban checkpoints along the way.
The evacuation efforts turned deadly when an ISIS suicide bomber detonated explosives near one of the airport gates, killing 13 U.S. service members and injuring 18 more service members. The blast also killed dozens more troops and civilians.
During his rally speech some five months later, Trump called the Afghanistan withdrawal “the worst and most embarrassing moment in the history of the United States.”
Trump went on the describe the chaotic Afghan withdrawal efforts and a “woke military leadership crisis” as undermining America’s image of strength around the world.
“When President Xi of china looks and sees what happened in Afghanistan, they don’t have fear of us anymore, they don’t have respect for us anymore,” Trump said. “And you know what, they’ve taken some of the brand new beautiful equipment that was given, like when we surrendered over there. That was a surrender.”
Trump also criticized the Biden administration for billions of dollars and military equipment that was left behind, with much of it falling into the Taliban’s hands. Over the course of the 20-year military mission in Afghanistan, the U.S. spent gave about $85 billion in military equipment and training to the Afghan government.
“$85 billion worth of equipment was handed over to the Taliban,” Trump said Saturday.