George W. Bush Slams U.S. Pullout From Afghanistan As A ‘Mistake’

Topline

Former President George W. Bush on Wednesday criticized President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, predicting it would lead to suffering for the Afghan people. 

Key Facts

In an interview with German news outlet Deutsche Welle, Bush called the pullout a “mistake” and argued the consequences will be “unbelievably bad.”

Bush, who was responsible for launching the war in Afghanistan 20 years ago as president, said he’s worried Afghan women and girls are going to “suffer unspeakable harm” as a result of the withdrawal. 

Bush said he’s also concerned about “all the interpreters and people that helped” U.S. troops and NATO forces, saying it “seems like they’re just gonna be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people,” referring to the Taliban. 

Critics worry Biden’s decision could lead to a Taliban takeover and the fall of the Afghan government as Taliban forces inch closer to Kabul.

Biden has said he views the possibility of a complete Taliban takeover as “highly unlikely” and reiterated he has confidence in the Afghan government’s “capacity to sustain” itself.

Crucial Quote

“I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome,” Biden said in a speech at the White House last week as he announced the U.S. would formally end its mission in Afghanistan on August 31.

Key Background

Bush’s comments come as U.S. intelligence officials warn the Afghan government could fall in as little as six months under increased pressure from the Taliban. In the past two months, the Taliban have made huge gains, and now control 195 of the country’s 407 districts, according to The Foundation for Defense of Democracies. On Friday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kerby called the Taliban’s advances “concerning,” and acknowledged it was a “deteriorating security situation.” According to CNN, the surge in fighting has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee. 

Surprising Fact

Biden first announced in April the U.S. would withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11, pushing back the May 1 deadline former President Donald Trump set last year. When Biden made the decision, he said he called Bush to inform him before he made a public announcement. 

Chief Critic

Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan has divided Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday called the pullout a “reckless rush for the exits” and a “global embarrassment,” while Trump, back in April, applauded the move. 

Further Reading

Biden Says U.S. Will Conclude Military Mission In Afghanistan On August 31 (Forbes)

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