Afghanistan: Former adviser to Mike Pence warned in 2020 that Trump was setting up another 'Benghazi'

James Golby was a special advisor to Mike Pence's office.
He served 20 years in the US Army, and was twice deployed to Iraq.

He warned Trump last fall that he was leaving behind an "unsustainable presence" in Afghanistan.

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An ex-Trump administration advisor warned that Trump's decision not to send 2,500 troops to Afghanistan, and his telegraphed desire for the United States to withdraw them, would make American forces more vulnerable to attack.

In a November 2020 article, James Golby wrote that Trump may have created the conditions for another Bay of Pigs or Black Hawk Down or Benghazi by his own design. He was a special advisor to Mike Pence. He wrote that these were all instances in which the United States had entered into foreign conflicts sufficiently to attract lethal opposition, but not enough strength to protect its citizens.

According to reports, more than 60 Afghans were killed by the suicide attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport. ISIS-K, an extremist group, claimed responsibility.

Golby is a US Army veteran who was a senior fellow at Clements Center for National Security at University of Texas at Austin. He criticized Trump's decision in mid-November 2020. He wrote that he would "leave behind an unsustainable presence...a crisis for Afghan people and a mess for Biden-Harris administration."

Vice President Mike Pence (@VP45), May 25, 2017,

According to the United Nations records, more than 5,000 Afghan civilians were injured or killed in the first half 2021. This is the highest number of deaths since 2009 when records began being kept. Anti-government forces accounted for 64%. The BBC reported that 50 people were killed in a terrorist attack on Kabul's secondary school. Most of them were young girls.

The decision to end the 20-year American presence Afghanistan enjoyed broad support from the American public. Golby last year noted that any decision to remain, even for a limited counter-terrorism mission would have required more US troops, potentially leading to new clashes between the Taliban and those forces.

Biden is not responsible for the two decades of failed state-building or the backlog of Special Immigration Visa (SIV), applicants that his predecessor created, but refugee advocates had asked in April, four months before Kabul fell, and again in May, for the administration's authorization to begin mass airlifts for vulnerable Afghans. He used his power to grant humanitarian "parole," to bypass the State Department bureaucracy.

Biden chose not to do so until after Kabul fell, though he did approve a small surge of US troops just before the collapse and authorized the deployment of 5,000 soldiers. According to The New York Times, these calls were denied partly because Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, requested that he delay the withdrawal to maintain morale and avoid deploying additional troops before the total withdrawal. Two US officials spoke with Reuters to say that he was also concerned about the "political consequences" of a large number of Afghan refugees entering the United States.

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