Two journalists, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, explored the early months of United States President Joe Biden's administration in their new book titled "Peril", which analyzes the Democratic leader's decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.
Biden's resolve in pulling back all American soldiers from Afghanistan amid resistance from top advisers was detailed in the book. The writing showed how determined the politician was in his decision, seemingly neglecting the fact that the U.S. troops have been struggling in the war-torn country for nearly two decades.
Criticism of Biden's Determined Decision
The book also detailed how Biden watched the issue as a former vice president when the military and national leaders were cornering then-President Barack Obama during his first year. Despite the first Black American president wishing to end the long-running war in Afghanistan, Biden believed Obama was manipulated by the military.
In 2009, Biden said that the military was not trying to get their hands dirty with him, implying that they moved forward with their agenda regarding Obama, the book says. The document also showed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin supported a slower withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, CNN reported.
Blinken changed his perspective after a meeting of NATO ministers in March and after being in opposition to Biden's decision, the book says. "His new recommendation was to extend the mission with US troops for a while to see if it could yield a political settlement. Buy time for negotiations," the authors wrote.
During a phone call from Brussels, Blinken told Biden that other NATO ministers discussed how the United States should have used the withdrawal to inch toward a political settlement. Austin also proposed a new plan where he expressed the idea of a "gated" withdrawal that would remove American troops from Afghanistan in three or four stages, providing leverage for diplomatic negotiations.
Despite the recommendations, Biden was determined to continue with his plan of withdrawing all United States military personnel from Afghanistan. It was a decision that led to a top Senate Democrat criticizing the president on Tuesday regarding his "fatally flawed" decision. Sen. Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, demanded an explanation from Biden's administration to justify its decision, USA Today reported.
Objective of Troop Withdrawal
Biden defended his administration by arguing that the U.S. government's objective was to stop Afghanistan from being used by Al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups as a base of operations for attacking the homeland and allies. The Democrat expressed his views during one of 25 National Security Council meetings.
The situation comes as Menendez threatened to subpoena Austin after the latter failed to appear at a hearing that discussed Biden's withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. The chairman said that he had the authority to oppose Pentagon nominees based on Austin's no-show for Tuesday's hearing, where Blinken testified.
Menendez said he expected Austin to make himself available to the committee in the near future. He added he had the power to use the committee's subpoena authority to compel him and have other officials testify, Politico reported.