LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Less than 24 hours after the last American soldier left Afghanistan, Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun was meeting with a small group of farmers near Salem in Washington County.
The conversation was mostly about domestic issues, such as term limits, climate change and President Joseph Biden’s decision to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline.
“That’s as stupid as what we did in Afghanistan,” Braun said.
The comment revealed that events 7,000 miles away were also on his mind. Braun told WDRB News he does believe the United States needed to get out of Afghanistan.
“I think most Americans know that we can’t be in quagmires like Vietnam, like Iraq in the long run, now Afghanistan,” he said.
But Braun called the way Biden handled the withdrawal “disgraceful” and “embarrassing.”
“It doesn’t make sense. I think it was a classic blunder,” Braun said. “It’s when you’re so headstrong to do something you lose your common sense along the way.”
Across the river in Louisville, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, a long-time critic of the war, is glad it is over.
“I’m glad President Biden took the steps he has, even as rocky as the last couple of weeks have been,” he said.
Yarmuth was not ready to lay all the blame on the president for the chaotic withdrawal. He said the Biden administration was under pressure to meet deadlines negotiated with the Taliban under President Donald Trump.
“I hate to second-guess when I don’t know everything that the military knew and that the administration knew,” Yarmuth said. “But clearly it was. It was messy.”
Yarmuth said the U.S. did leave behind a generation of Afghans who are educated and accustomed to western culture. He believes they could make a difference in the new Afghanistan even under the Taliban.
“There’s a reason for optimism that this will not revert to a 15th0century world,” he said.
But from the perspective of Indiana farm country, Braun was not so sure the seeds planted in Afghanistan will yield a good crop.
“Anybody that says, ‘Trust the Taliban,’ that’s as foolish as saying that you could get out of there in the fashion that we did,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement Tuesday afternoon on the situation in Afghanistan:
“President Biden’s reckless withdrawal has created a humanitarian disaster and emboldened the terrorists. The plight of innocent Afghans and the threats to our American homeland and American interests are going to grow and grow. We are less safe as a result of this self-inflicted wound, and this fight will not end just because our politicians want to wish it away.”