British MP Tom Tugendhat, who served in Afghanistan, tore in President Joe Biden on Wednesday in a speech on the floor of Parliament, calling the president “shameful” for maligning the whole of the Afghan military and accused Biden of having “torn open” old wounds with a withdrawal that felt like “defeat.”
Tugendhat noted Tuesday on Twitter that he hoped to have a few minutes to deliver a speech on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday as he wanted to respond to Biden’s Monday remarks defending his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan but not addressing the disastrous events of last weekend, which saw the Taliban return to power after taking the Afghan capital city, Kabul.
Since then, the United States’ withdrawal has been marked by shocking footage of desperate Afghans trying to board planes out of the country and a series of confusing remarks from Biden administration officials, who have both defended their actions and blamed the situation on others. Evacuations from Kabul have finally resumed, by the Biden administration has admitted that it does not have a plan to rescue all 10,000 to 15,000 Americans who may be trapped in Afghanistan.
Tugendhat took particular offense at Biden’s comments about the Afghan army, whom he served alongside. In his speech, Biden claimed that “the Afghan military gave up, sometimes without trying to fight.”
Tugendhat said, Wednesday, that that is not true, particularly for the nearly 70,000 members of the Afghan army that fought and died alongside American and British troops, per Sky News.
He, like many veterans of the war, “struggled through anger, grief and rage” amid news of Kabul’s fall, Tugendhat said.
“The feeling of abandonment, of not just a country but the sacrifice that my friends made,” he said, opened fresh wounds. He added that he had seen “good men go into the earth, taking with a part of me and a part of all of us.”
He then turned his aim to Joe Biden, whom he called “shameful” for his decision to “call into question the courage of the men I fought with,” referring to the Afghan soldiers.
“I was never prouder than when I was decorated by the [US] 82nd airborne after the capture of Musa Qala. It was a huge privilege, a huge privilege to be recognized by such an extraordinary unit in combat,” he said. “To see their commander-in-chief call into question the courage of men I fought with, to claim they ran. It’s shameful.”
“Those who have not fought for the colors they fly should be careful about criticizing those who have,” Tugendhat snapped.
Tugendhat then suggested something that would have been unthinkable before the Afghan withdrawal: that the United Kingdom, other European nations, NATO partners, and Asian powerhouses join together to handle issues across the globe without the United States.
“We can set out a vision, clearly articulate it, for reinvigorating our European NATO partners, to make sure that we are not dependent on a single ally, on the decision of a single leader, that that we can work together with Japan and Australia, France and Germany, with partners large and small and make sure we hold the line together,” he said.