South Carolina lawmakers express frustration, anger over Afghanistan’s fall

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 8:14 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - With scenes of confusion and chaos coming out of Kabul in recent days as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, South Carolina lawmakers are reacting to President Biden’s decision to withdraw all US troops from the region in a little over a month, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, is angry not only with the Biden administration but with Congress who for 30 years he believes has abdicated its war powers duties.

He said he’s not necessarily angry about the withdrawal itself but has issues with the way it’s being handled.

“I’m frustrated and I’m heartbroken and I’m embarrassed at the way this has all gone down,” he said.

Part of that frustration comes from the fact that he came to know the Afghan people well when he was stationed as a civilian affairs officer in Afghanistan, his third combat tour of duty.

“Once you’ve met Afghans and you know who these people are as people, and you see the promises that were made to them in exchange for them helping us, to see us run away from that in the middle of the night is nothing short of infuriating,” Caskey said.

Sen. Tim Scott expressed a similar sentiment.

In a written statement, he said in part, “As the entire world watches in dismay at the horrifying images from the streets of Kabul, my heart breaks for our allies and many others who will be targeted by the Taliban. It didn’t have to be this way.”

“We were never going to stay forever,” Caskey said. “In fact, I think there was a case to be made that we should have left long ago. But the reality is as you implement the withdrawal in the final phase of this, you have to do it with some element of professionalism, and that is not there.”

Rep. Nancy Mace said Tuesday on Twitter: “Most agree, we needed to leave. It’s ‘how’ we left that so many are calling Biden’s competency into question; leaving behind thousands of citizens, diplomats and on the ground allies.”

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the lone Democrat in the Congressional delegation, stood by the president, saying, “There are no easy answers in Afghanistan. President Biden today demonstrated he is willing to make hard choices and take responsibility for the outcome. That is the mark of a true leader.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch Biden critic, said the president “has no one to blame for this debacle but himself.”

Caskey said it’s Congress’ responsibility to provide scrutiny and oversight on war efforts, but urged citizens to push legislators on these issues as well.

“I think that we all have to ask ourselves what we could’ve done to demand harder questions be asked along the way,” Caskey said.

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