Salud: Biden Right on Afghan Policy, Wrong on Pullout Deadline; Won’t Endorse Cathy in Mayor’s Race

By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

In the understatement of the year, Rep. Salud Carbajal on Wednesday said that the Biden Administration “could have done a better execution of the withdrawal” from Afghanistan.

The third-term Democratic member from the 24th Congressional District said in a Newsmakers interview that he strongly agrees with President Biden’s overall policy in pulling all remaining troops out of the country, but offered a guarded negative review of how the withdrawal has been handled.

Carbajal’s comments, his most extensive to date on the fiasco in Afghanistan, come at a time when there is widespread national and global outrage and anger over the volatile and violent scenes still playing out at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, as tens of thousands of people seek to flee the Taliban which. with startling swiftness, took control of the country as the government and military the U.S. propped up for two decades collapsed within a few weeks.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Carbajal said he has objected in writing to the Administration’s hardline insistence on maintaining a deadline of August 31 as misguided, a position aligned with NATO allies, including Britain and France.

“What should guide our withdrawal date is not an arbitrary date, but the ability to get out all the Americans that need to get out, and all those partners and Afghanis that helped us during our mission in Afghanistan,” he said, expressing “grave concern that that deadline could cause a less than orderly, swift and complete evacuation of all Americans and other Afghanis who need to leave.”
“There’s going to be Monday night quarterbacking on what’s transpired — should we have done something better or different,” Carbajal added. “I think this Administration certainly could have done a better execution of the withdrawal.”
The House representative for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, however, rejected the argument that the U.S. should have left a small force in the country to ensure some level of stability. He applauded not only Biden, but also — surprisingly — former President Donald Trump for pursuing a correct policy.
“At the end of the day it’s about ending a presence in Afghanistan that went beyond the mission that we started 20 years ago to address the threat of Al-Qaeda and to deal with Isis,” he said. “Eventually, it became the United States being there supporting a government in their civil war, and costing the lives of many American men and women that were serving there.
“So I agree with, believe it or not, the previous Administration and the current Administration that we needed to get out. I think the issue is could we have done it a little more effectively,.” he said.
Carabajal spoke to us from his district office, shortly after returning to Santa Barbara from Washington, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi a few days ago summoned the House back into session during a recess to resolve a high-stakes dispute over the fate of some $4.5 trillion in spending that had been blocked by conflict between moderate and left-wing Democrats.

I just got in at (noon) to the Santa Barbara Airport,” he said. “I got up at 4 a.m. in Washington so I could be with you.”


In the interview Carbajal also :

  • Put on a first-rate terpsichorean performance, tap dancing and tip toeing his way through a line of questioning about whether he was allied with the progressives or the moderates in the House’s ideological fiscal dispute, with left wing Democrats coupling a vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, already passed in the Senate, to demands for support of a $3.5 trillion budget measure that contains vast new spending to pay for Biden’s social welfare, education and climate change agenda: “I would say I was with both of them,” he said, in the most Salud comment ever. ” I was working with individuals with both sides. I consider myself very pragmatic, I have relationships with many from different perspectives and I was working with everyone.”

  • Ticked off a series of specific benefits for local residents in the new spending packages, ranging from $11 million more for the Highway 101 widening project and electric buses for the city of San Luis Obispo to extension of a new child tax credit, tuition-free community college and expansion of Medicare benefits to include eye, ear and dental care: “There are signficiant investments for the Central Coast — roads, bridges, waterways, broadband.”

  • Argued that forecasts of Democrats suffering a wipeout loss in next year’s midterm elections are off the mark because, he said, a majority of voters will appreciate and reward Democrats for the huge amounts of new federal spending his party has showered on the country through the American Recovery Act -=- with more to come. “I think the American people have seen what Democrats have done now that they’re in charge. And when you consider the investments that are yet to come – like universal preschool — I’m optimistic that will go a long way at the ballot box.”

  • Offered an optimistic view of the chances for passage of landmark “red flag” gun safety legislation he has co-sponsored with Senator Dianne Feinstein, which would give families and law enforcement new authority to obtain legal orders to take guns away from people who are in mental or psychological crisis: “Within this, and next, year of this Congress, there’s a real possibility this legislation will be able to move forward.”

  • Stated that he would not take sides in the Santa Barbara mayor’s race by endorsing Mayor Cathy Murillo, as he did at a crucial time in the 2017 race; Carbajal said that while he has a “good partnership” with the mayor he also is “family friends” with challenger Deborah Schwartz, the daughter of the late Naomi Schwartz, who was his political mentor when he served as her aide on the Board of Supervisors: “I’m staying out of the race this time around…I know too many people who are running.”

Check out our interview with Rep. Salud Carbajal via YouTube below, or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here.


Written by Jerry Roberts

“Newsmakers” is a multimedia journalism platform that focuses on politics, media and public affairs in Santa Barbara. Learn more at

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  1. The best take away from this article is that Salud isn’t supporting Cathy. Everyone is jumping off of the Cathy train, her term has run off the tracks. It’s a mass exodus and it’s about time. There truly is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time for everything with a C to go, Cathy & Covid!!!

  2. There is no perfect end for a misbegotten adventure of this absurdity. Criticizing Biden for any part of this is just petty. Really, are the deaths of US military people placed in harms way in a part of the world that we have no right to be in more important than the hundreds of thousands of others lost to this stupidness? Did the people who ‘helped’ us not know and calculate the odds of their position? Are women treated worse in other parts of the world? Are sexual rights denied in other parts of the world? Are children abused and sexually exploited in other parts of the world. We can never guarantee equity for others. All these things are not the burden of the US. The end to this attempt is messy but it is an end I hope. Thanks for that.

  3. Santa Barbara’s own political dynasty: Senator Gary Hart to Supervisor Naomi Schwartz to Rep Salud Carbajal and now down to Naomi’s daughter Deborah Schwartz – all a continuous line of succession of similar politics, working as staffers first and then on to the big time as elected politicos. This is your local inside game – not necessarily good or bad, but pretty darn incestuous. Which is why it is hard for newcomers to breakthrough.

  4. Biden made a series of very flawed decisions during his pivotal 8 months handling this pre-set Afghan withdrawal – their consequences are now his alone and he does need to be accountable for them. One of the worst was handing over Bagram AFB to the Taliban before departure of Americans and others of interest. He had a choice – the embassy or Bagram – he chose to put his resources into protecting the downtown Embassy, which quickly fell. And that cut off his alternate escape routes at Bagram along with handing over military supplies and releasing ISIS-K prisoners before the last Americans had departed. Too late to undo that choice now as the carnage numbers mount from the recent ISIS-K suicide bombing, but it clearly was his to make.

  5. The responsibility for the rapid collapse in Afghanistan rests squarely with the Commander in Chief of the United States, Joe Biden. It’s not petty to blame him, the Biden administration failed to fund contingency plans or even take the possibility of failure seriously. Listening to Biden try to rationalize his failures this past week makes me question how much longer he’ll be around.

  6. RHS – Just a ridiculous post RHS. You are saying the people who “helped us” deserve to die? And that the horrifying dumb plan of having the military all exit BEFORE American citizens isn’t something that can be criticized. This is not a partisan issue. Everyone can see this was a train wreck. If you can’t see and acknowledge that, then you have no capacity for objectivity anymore.

  7. We had a duty to protect our own and those that we had approved for visas…and leave in an orderly and controlled manner. This is the exact opposite of that. Your comment of “Did the people who ‘helped’ us not know and calculate the odds of their position?” is probably the most callous comment I’ve ever seen on here. And that four people up-voted it is truly sickening.

  8. Salud, if you really had our best interests at heart, you’d be asking JB to step down after having our troops killed, likely to be POW ‘s after the departure in the one of the worst military operations in my lifetime. If done correctly, we wouldn’t be airlifting 1/2 the Afghan population out.

  9. @ RHS :
    The withdrawal was botched in the worst possible way.
    Biden had plenty of “quiet” time to do the following. From April to July : basically NOTHING was going on in Afghanistan.
    He should have :
    1) Flown away ALL Americans and “partnership” Afghans.
    2) Flown away the military equipment and prepare the one that couldn’t be taken away to be BLOWN out.
    3) AFTER and only AFTER all of that was done , remove the military and abandon Bagram.
    He had time to get all of that done with NO chaos.
    He is incompetent and fully SOLE responsible from the current (and not yet over) disaster in Afghanistan.

  10. Implying that the former president would have done better is laughable. That moron said he’d get us out (he didn’t) and that he made a perfect deal with the Taliban (he didn’t): both were lies (as was/is everything that comes out of the buffoon’s mouth).

  11. You are right, we should not have been in Afghanistan in the first place. There is a lot of blame for a lot of Presidents to go around. The exit strategy that Biden has had 7 months to work on was and is a disaster. That’s not a partisan take, that’s a fact. Ask any of our allies, or our enemies. All of them have chimed in on the disaster.
    Hopefully some good comes out of the 20 years we were there. Time will tell. But either way, history will not be kind to Biden’s exit strategy.

  12. Salud Carbajal got his political start after being on staff to county supervisor Naomi Schwartz. He took over for her as county supervisor, after she retired and suddenly died. Naomi Schwartz’s legacy is now remembered as a named county office building, which I believe Salud Carbajal had a hand in doing. This city mayor endorsement matter of course puts Salud Carbajal in a sticky situation, since Naomi Schwartz’s daughter Deborah Schwartz, chose to run against fellow Democrat Cathy Murillo for mayor. Salud Carbajal’s political fortunes obviously took off from his early start with Naomi Schwartz to the point he was the obvious replacement for retiring Lois Capps as our district Congressional Rep. All in the family. We do have political dynasties in Santa Barbara, when you track some careers back to their origins.

  13. Bro Trump made the crap deal
    That released thousands of terrorists back in the wild and gave a firm deadline for US withdrawal (May). This is the fruits of that deal. Pay attention. Afghanistan was never going to end well for the US, there’s a reason it’s called “The Graveyard of Empires”.

  14. Thank you Salud! Plenty of blame to go around, but watching our Commander in Chief over the past week has been heartbreaking and very troubling. All of us know when someone is “not all there” and that is the case with the POTUS.

  15. Harbor Seal. You are right on. Biden voided almost all Trump Executive Orders immediately upon assuming office, but claims it was bound by the (misbegotten) deal with the Taliban. This is pure crap. Biden owns what has happened in Afghanistan.

  16. $85 BILLION of Equipment left to the TALIBAN…
    75,000 Vehicles
    200 Aircraft INCLUDING Blackhawk Helicopters
    600,000 Weapons, from missiles to rifles
    100,000’s of Night Vision goggles, Protection vests and material…
    Not to mention the Bio-Metric devices that read facial recognition and fingerprints of the Afghans who aided us militarily…

  17. Cakes, I see zero indication in Rinconer’s post that he thinks we should stay!
    I do think that chaos and attacks would accompany our withdrawal regardless of who the prez/Commander in Chief was. I do not absolve Biden. Tactics should have been better.
    But do not ignore the deals Trump & Pompeo cut! It’s not like an executive order. We can only imagine what would happen if current commander in chief reneged on recent deals to end a war…
    It’s all a horror and failed in many ways, and tarnishes our reputation. So did abandoning the Kurds. And how many Vietnamese who supported and aided us where left behind?
    We should’ve been bringing in many Afghans as citizens, both as immigrants and refugees.
    But our last administration wasn’t so big on that — cite to follow.

  18. Trump was securing our southern border. Biden has facilitated a flood of illegal immigration. Trump made the US energy independent. Biden has brought us $4.50/gal gas. Trump was pushing back in aggressive China empire building. Biden has proved himself to be weak, frail, and in severe cognitive decline.
    You have to be deranged to think we’re better off with Biden.

  19. Rinconer: So you think we should have stayed in Afghanistan? That makes NO sense at all, and we’d continue to keep wasting money and lives there. If Trump did anything right, he got us out of the endless war. Biden just followed through with the process, and is now being blamed for everything falling apart, which is too bad. Unfortunately, it does not look like President Biden is up to the task, and whoever is making the decisions for him should be held accountable…not the president. Some are speculating that he will not make it through the four years, and that may be in the works, but nobody in the (D) world want his back-up to be in charge. Not THAT would be a disaster!

  20. It wasn’t the fact that we are leaving. We should have done so after killing Bin Laden. It is the decisions on how to leave that has the world shaking their heads. We are now seen by the world as a feeble nation as demonstrated by the feeble man who addressed the world a couple of days ago. That becomes a danger to everyone.

  21. VOICE – haha, yeah you 100% missed the point again. Weird, I thought you would have gotten this. No, here’s what I mean:
    You said: “Your rationale is because Trump didn’t start the gear removal that make it okay for Biden to not do it over the past 7 months? do you even hear yourself?”
    I’m just curious why he didn’t start the removal process at all? This isn’t whataboutism, this is holding you accountable for excusing him for not making an effort while he could.
    So, again, why didn’t Trump start removing equipment while he had the power and ability?
    Disclaimer: I think Biden screwed this royally and am not defending his actions, just holding VOICE accountable for giving Trump a free pass here.

  22. Goodness VOR. Is everything binary to you? You need to get out more. Its painfully obvious that your views of the world are framed by other people’s opinions. Try living life on your own a little. It will do wonders for all that grit and grime clogging up your senses and sensibilities.

  23. VOICE – Read the first sentence of your own comment again….”You thinking it’s only “right wing” shows how blind you’ve been to the misinformation, hoaxes, and censorship the “left wing” media has spewed out the past five years.”
    Now, read the second sentence of your own comment again…”Again, if you’re thinking red-blue, left-right, you’ve already lost and are doing exactly what is expected of you.”
    Funny guy, real funny guy……

  24. JB86 – oh wow….. um, not sure how to break this to you, but executive orders and negotiated bilateral agreements are not the same thing. You can’t just “void” yourself from a bilateral surrender agreement. It’s not like the Paris Agreement haha!

  25. Byz, you are repeating the Republicon talking points to a word. Good job of supporting the party that started these wars and didn’t raise taxes to pay for them. Let your grandkids know what they are in for due to your poor planning and management.

  26. Is it just me, or do the Republicans think that history started on the 1st day of Biden’s presidency? They don’t remember that they started these wars, and negotiated with terrorists on a pull-out date.
    Yeah, that’s fair.

  27. PIT – the problem is, the whole time Trump was in office, they blamed everything on Obama and Hilary. Now that Biden is in office, it’s all his fault. It’s as Trump was never there. If only we could be so lucky…..

  28. …who fumbled? Your Hero: The tough guy from Scranton. The Disgraceful Doofus of Delaware. The Honorable Wimp McFuddydudd. The 50 years in the Senate no-nothing guy. But he is our president, and needs our support because the media is tearing him to shhhhhreds.

  29. BABY – yeah, Biden fumbled, not sure anyone is disputing that. He’s screwed up. BUT, he was took possession of a deflated ball on a crap play from the QB who ran out of bounds to avoid being touched after limply tossing a wobbly pass. Meanwhile, the head coach who started it all sat by grinning like a drunk monkey as he watched from the sideline as the crowd yelled at Biden.
    This was a team effort. Decades of mistakes and incompetence. To lie this squarely at Biden’s feet though, is to ignore the past 20 years of punting.

  30. BABYCAKES – “With that logic, Trump is still the POTUS.” – Explain. Oh, I can’t wait to here your “logic” concluding that, given some premise, Trump is still POTUS. Break it down for us.
    *”Hear” not “here” but either way……

  31. Make you a deal PitMix – my grand kids pay off the “endless war” military debts, and your grand kids pay off the over-promised public pension debts. Either way, both are taxation without representation to be carried by future generations long after we are both gone. Which is why deep financial literacy is a good skill set to look for when voting in any election. At some point all the bills come due.

  32. Pitmix, you err. Why didn’t the peace loving Democrats immediately stop these alleged endless wars you claim only GOP create. I always thought endless wars benefited primarily the Democrat military-industrial complex employee unions – the defense industry unions. Along with getting their cut out of any “foreign aid” that also demands quid pro quo military hardware purchases, additionally subsidizing the defense industry union members. See how helpful it is finally sharing various partisan insights, instead of just hurling insults?

  33. This was an avoidable F-up of mega proportions and I can’t believe how many here are making excuses for the one-person with ultimate authority over what happened, you know where the “buck stops”. This is especially so after these same people blamed the prior administration if the wind shifted. Why so many will continue carrying water for failing politicians simply because of their party affiliation never stops amazing me. The elites and ruling class keep their hold on power by constantly dividing the populace and making them think it is a red-blue battle, and we will forever lose until the majority realize it’s an us-them battle.

  34. The same people who became infectious disease experts, epidemiologists and virologists over the last 18 months are now foreign policy, military and Afghanistan experts. It might be a coincidence, but they all have two things in common. No formal training in these fields and hours spent every day watching, listening and sharing right wing media that somehow, conforms perfectly to their bias and prejudice…

  35. You thinking it’s only “right wing” shows how blind you’ve been to the misinformation, hoaxes, and censorship the “left wing” media has spewed out the past five years. Again, if you’re thinking red-blue, left-right, you’ve already lost and are doing exactly what is expected of you.

  36. Yes, Coastwatch, all that gear! Who put it in there and didn’t protect it? Not Biden in less than a year! It was put in over years and would have taken years to remove — and when Trump signed the deal with the Taliban, gear should have started being taken out then.

  37. So when will Biden be expected to stand on his own two feet, or will you blame Trump for anything that goes wrong while he’s in office? Your rationale is because Trump didn’t start the gear removal that make it okay for Biden to not do it over the past 7 months? do you even hear yourself?

  38. what about what about what about what about!!!! Who is president Sac? Who has been president the past 7 months? When will the current president be expected to stand on his own two feet? Will you continue to make excuses and blame the prior president for every mess Biden makes? You have full-on drunk the Kool-Aid

  39. Because of Biden’s failures and blunders, the USA is now the laughing stock of the world. It is interesting that many of you still believe Trump is the prez…and in charge. NEWS FLASH: Trump lost and Bumbles the Fumbler is now making the decisions. Even CNN and MSNBC are finally telling the truth about the inept Mr. Biden. The vast majority of the world see that Joe and his administration are failing and flailing, but of course…. it’s Trump’s fault.

  40. If we’re going to play the cynical Afghanistan blame game, George W. Bush is the main leader at fault. Blaming Biden ignores 20 years of history and missed opportunities. Building a competent and legitimate Afghan gov. and security force was immediately neglected in favor of Iraq. The Taliban was on the run in 2001 and the lack of a coherent policy from Rumsfeld and Bush let insurgents regroup in 2006. Obama tried the surge in troops and aid but by then the Taliban were too entrenched and retaking even small portions of territory in the south and east of the country took too much time, blood and treasure. Trump, with his natural instinct to always avoid responsibility, wanted no part of Afghanistan and made a laughable “peace deal” with the Taliban. No ceasefire, no input from the Afghan govt., no concrete actions or conditions. He threw away the main leverage the US had: continuing occupation, by stating repeatedly the US was pulling out and drawing troop numbers down to 2500. He also said repeatedly to advisors and officials that he would not pull out because of the effects of bad press on his re-election. Biden was left with an impossible situation but he took the initiative to rip the bandaid off when 3 presidents before him failed to turn the situation around.

  41. Pitmix, GOP does not see this group of refugees as “Muslims”, by your implied definition meaning I suppose fundamentalist terrorists. GOP see this group of evacuees as those who honorably served the US during its time in Afghanistan, who now face murder by the Taliban for serving US interests. This was intended to be a humanitarian airlift for those whom we now owe personal safety. Bungled however in chaos and confusion after Biden closed the Bagram AFB to now include those who never served the US, and will become a clear and present danger to our national safety. So no gloating over tricking anyone. Biden just left us in a situation that was easy to exploit by some of your”Muslims”. Which ones? That is for the Biden team to now figure out.

  42. Obama couldn’t get us out of those wars because as a liberal he was too sensitive to attack from the rep chickenhawks- once we have shed US blood in a foreign place, it is a no-win situation for the person that gets us out of there.. Biden could do it because his son fought over there. The military couldn’t train the Afghans to fight their way out of a paper bag, and gave Biden bad advice on how long the Afghans could hold out against the Taliban. That was Biden’s only mistake, listening to the Generals. Won’t make that again.

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