Someone has to take the blame for what happened with Afghanistan. President Biden said that he wasn’t advised on how to withdraw. Meanwhile, the military generals who stood before the senate committee said they absolutely advised the president.
Since there seems to be a difference of opinion, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) decided that he would get to the bottom of it – and demand a few resignations along the way.
Cotton confronted both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley during a hearing on Tuesday.
The questions were simple. Did they offer advice to the president and did the president heed that advice?
The general consensus is that Austin and Milley told the president that they were in favor of leaving approximately 2500 troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
Clearly, that didn’t happen.
The bigger problem, however, is that Biden has claimed that no military leader offered advice on leaving a small troop presence behind.
So, it only makes sense for Cotton to have some questions.
Austin felt as though he was about to turn the president into a liar. He interrupted Cotton to say that “first of all, I know the president to be an honest and forthright man, and secondly…”
That’s when Cotton interrupted him. The reality is only one man can be telling the truth. Either Austin provided advice and Biden lied or Austin didn’t provide advice and Biden was telling the truth.
Cotton asked the question again. “He said no senior military leader advised him to leave small troop presence behind. Is that true or not? Did these officers’ and Gen. Milley’s recommendations get to the president personally?”
Why is this so hard for Austin to answer? Well, either he looks bad or he’s going to make the Commander in Chief look bad.
Austin went on to insist that the input was received by the president and was “considered by the president for sure.”
Cotton points out that it’s problematic that the best military advice that could have been given to the president may not have been presented to him personally. That’s when the GOP senator also pointed out that Biden has claimed that the top generals “unanimously” recommended that there should be no troops left behind in Afghanistan past August 31.
When was that recommendation made?
That’s when things get really interesting.
Milley says the assessment was made and provided on August 25.
Cotton pointed out that Kabul fell on August 15. Were they not asked for advice before August 25?
Milley repeats that he was asked about keeping military forces in place on August 25.
At this point, Cotton can’t seem to believe what he is hearing. “It took 10 days to ask these general officers if we should extend our presence? I would expect the answer might be a little different if you were asking them 16 days out, not 5 days out.”
This is where the real problem lies. It sounds as though Biden already had his mind made up. He knew what he wanted to do. He already planned to desert Americans and Afghan allies. Yet, he asked the officers for advice at the last minute as a way to save face.
Cotton asked why Milley didn’t resign when Biden ignored the advice – and created a disaster in the process. As the principal military adviser, he should be advising. And when the president doesn’t do as advised, shouldn’t that result in resignation?
Milley pushed back to say that resigning as a senior military officer is a “serious thing.” He went on to say that it’s a political act if he is forced to resign. Further, he went on to say that Biden didn’t have to agree with the advice given.
So, there we have it. A man with no military background chose not to ask for advice. Then, when he finally did ask, he ignored what those who are better educated about military strategy advised him to do.
It sounds as if Milley and Austin tried to keep Afghanistan from being a natural disaster. The disaster it became falls squarely on Biden’s shoulders – and Cotton got the answer he was digging for all along.