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Mike Pompeo speaks to US troops in Afghanistan.

Photo by U.S. Department of State (Public domain)

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

With Afghanistan having been taken over by the Taliban, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slamming President Joe Biden for withdrawing U.S. troops from the country — neglecting to mention that Biden was essentially following the Pompeo/Donald Trump plan for withdrawal, although at a slower pace. The Kansas City Star's editorial board, in a scathing editorial published on August 18, slams Pompeo's total hypocrisy.

"That other Republicans are criticizing Biden's implementation of Trump's deal is one thing," the Star's editorial board explains. "But Pompeo personally oversaw the Trump Administration's Afghanistan withdrawal discussions with Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, whom the CIA had arrested in 2010. He'd been in a Pakistani prison until Trump got him out two years ago. So, it's a little bit stunning to watch Pompeo accuse Biden of 'leading with weakness' by finishing the troop withdrawal that Trump planned to accomplish even more quickly."

The "other Republicans" that the Star is referring to in its editorial could include Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, although the Star doesn't actually mention either of them by name. Cheney and Kinzinger have both been vehemently critical of the Biden Administration in the days following the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan, but they have also been vehemently critical of Trump and Pompeo — arguing that the Trump/Pompeo plan for withdrawal was horribly flawed and that Biden was wrong to go along with it. For that matter, some Democrats and Biden allies have made the same argument.

Pompeo, however, is blaming Biden for embracing a Trump-era policy that he aggressively promoted — which, as the Star points out, is exactly the type of gall, arrogance and "brass" one expects from Pompeo.

The Star notes, "Trump undermined the success of his own team's efforts by bringing more and more U.S. troops home without any concessions from the Taliban. The Taliban was supposed to negotiate a peace agreement with the Afghan government, and when that didn't happen, the withdrawal continued anyway…. Pompeo's gloating that this withdrawal would have gone very differently under the previous administration is unsupported by what did happen when Trump was president."

By slamming Pompeo, the Star's editorial board isn't saying that Biden is blameless in the Afghanistan debacle. But Pompeo, according to the Star, is the last person who should be pointing the finger at Biden over the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan.

The editorial board stresses, "Trump, you remember, even invited the Taliban to Camp David…. Pompeo pushed hard for this plan, which put him at odds with then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who the New York Times reported at the time 'argued that Mr. Trump could keep his campaign pledge to draw down forces without getting in bed with killers bathed in American blood.' Yet in Wichita, we heard the chief proponent of this deal argue that Biden is weak for failing to stand up to the same Taliban that just a minute ago, Pompeo was talking up as our trusted partner in counterterrorism — and the same Taliban that both Trump and Biden failed to hold accountable."

"The execution of this long overdue withdrawal has been ugly," the Star's editorial continues. "How Trump could have somehow done the same thing both faster and more gently is unknowable at this point. A less disingenuous partisan would have acknowledged that, and would maybe even have shown some humility, given his role in what's playing out in Afghanistan."

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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