Last week, U.S. Navy SEAL veteran Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) slammed Fox News host Tucker Carlson for holding “isolationist” views while criticizing President Joe Biden’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
During his Wednesday, Aug. 17, episode of his “Hold These Truths” podcast, Crenshaw spoke with American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Dan Blumenthal about escalating tensions around Taiwan.
During the episode, Crenshaw advocated the U.S. take a proactive stance in supporting Taiwan against China including by shipping more weapons to Taiwan’s military. Throughout the conversation, Crenshaw also criticized “isolationists” who would oppose such steps.
Crenshaw said there’s a “very loud populist isolationist movement” within American conservatism that “shocked me” with its opposition to U.S. intervention against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“They’ve been wrong on every issue that they’ve ever thought about,” Crenshaw said. “But they, they somehow manipulate every single fact that proves them wrong into a fact that proves them right.”
“They were wrong about Afghanistan,” Crenshaw later added. “They said that if we just left, then there would be peace. Well, that’s not what happened. We lost 13 Marines.”
Crenshaw called out Carlson, who supported withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan but criticized Biden’s execution of that policy goal.
“Tucker Carlson is an expert at this, wrong about everything from the Afghanistan withdrawal to Ukraine, all of it,” Crenshaw said. “They get mad for even sending aid. And of course they make proclamations that aren’t true. ‘If you send aid, you’re going to get us into a nuclear war.’ Well that never happened, never materialized. You’re wrong but you can’t admit it.”
Crenshaw went on to say “Nothing made me angrier than watching Tucker Carlson have the nerve to even criticize Joe Biden,” over the Afghanistan withdrawal.
“Joe Biden did exactly what Tucker Carlson wanted him to do exactly to the T: pull out everybody right now, you know, no ifs, ands, or buts, no middle ground whatsoever,” Crenshaw said. “Not even Trump was, I think, thinking of doing that, you know, we would’ve at least left people in Bagram.”
Biden carried out the U.S. withdrawal largely based on the withdrawal deal his predecessor, President Donald Trump, had laid out. Biden did, however, delay the final withdrawal date from May 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2021.
According to excerpts from the new book “The Divider: Trump in The White House” by New York Times journalist Peter Baker and New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser, Trump had moved to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021. Baker and Glasser’s book alleges Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was part of an effort to prevent Trump from ordering all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by January 15, essentially keeping the May 1 withdrawal timeline.
Biden’s decision to delay the Afghanistan withdrawal beyond Trump’s May 1, 2021 timeline may have hurt the Taliban’s willingness to accommodate the U.S. withdrawal. When Biden announced the delay on April 14, 2021, the Taliban threatened to attack U.S. troops still in the country after May 1.
Fighting in Afghanistan is also largely confined to the period from mid-Spring to mid-fall, known as the “fighting season.” By pushing the final withdrawal date back from May 1 to Aug. 31, U.S. troops were leaving the country in the middle of the fighting season as Taliban forces were capturing vast swathes of Afghan territory.
The decision to abandon Bagram Airbase before the end of the U.S. withdrawal also likely impacted the eventual U.S. military-led civilian evacuation and final withdrawal. A February report from the Republican minority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, “The United States abandoned Bagram Air Base on July 4, without even telling the Afghan base commander.”
“In the process, the administration abandoned a facility that could have been critical to a better evacuation,” the Senate minority report added.
In June of 2021, General Mark Milley told lawmakers that Bagram wasn’t “tactically or operationally” necessary. Biden said in August that he followed the advice of military generals in agreeing to close down the base.
Bagram Air Base also hosted the Parwan Detention Facility. When the U.S. abandoned the base in July of 2021, they transferred custody of the facility’s approximately 3,000 detainees to the Afghan government. Many of those detainees were allowed to go free after the Taliban seized control of the base on Aug. 15, 2021.
Many radical former Bagram detainees, including ISIS-K members, were roaming free as U.S. withdrawal efforts were still ongoing. On Aug. 26, an ISIS-K member with a suicide bomb approached the security perimeter around the Kabul Airport, and detonated the explosive, killing 13 U.S. service members and dozens more Afghan civilians.