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Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed President Joe Biden for his assessment of the troop-withdrawal deal with the Taliban, and told the National Review that critics partially blaming the Trump administration for the current situation in Afghanistan are way off base.
“It is nonsense,” Pompeo told the National Review of the criticism. “It is, in fact, nonsense on stilts.”
Pompeo blamed Biden for incorrectly interpreting a conditions-based agreement he and former President Donald Trump made with the Taliban concerning U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We knew this was going to take many, many months. Constantly trying to convince the Afghans that they were going to have to take down the temperature on their civil war,” Pompeo told the National Review.
“That they were going to have to find a modus vivendi for power-sharing amongst the different tribes and ethnicities. This is a millennial project. I was under no illusion that this would happen on my watch.”
Pompeo signed an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 that established a May 2021 U.S. troop withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan provided the Islamic terrorist organization met a series of conditions, including making a complete break from al-Qaida.
Biden has claimed his hands were tied due to the Trump administration’s deal. He says he could have complied with the May deadline, or been forced to surge in more troops when the Taliban inevitably began attacking Americans for overstaying their welcome, the National Review reported.
“I don’t know what planet he’s on,” Pompeo told the National Review, noting that the Taliban didn’t ramp up attacks when Biden missed the May withdrawal deadline.
“[Biden] says there was an unconditional commitment to leave in May. That’s simply not true. Read the document. What we would have done is we would have continued to apply pressure.”
Critics of the deal have said that it was naïve to accept the Taliban’s word that they would break with al-Qaida. Former CIA counter-terrorism chief Doug London said Pompeo ignored politically inconvenient intelligence reports that predicted the current reality in Afghanistan.
Pompeo, though, told the National Review he was very aware of intelligence reports that al-Qaida remained deeply engaged in Afghanistan when he signed the Doha agreement.
“I never believed a thing they said,” Pompeo said of the Taliban’s vow to break from al-Qaida. “It was a condition.”
Pompeo stressed that the withdrawal deadline was “conditions-based,” and suggested Trump and his administration during a second term would have maintained a small military presence in Afghanistan past the May deadline, once it became clear the Taliban weren’t fulfilling their promises.
Former Trump national security advisors H.R. McMaster and John Bolton are among those who have blamed Trump and Pompeo for contributing to the current situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have reclaimed control of the country.
McMaster said Pompeo signed a “capitulation agreement” with the Taliban which all but guaranteed the Afghan military and government’s eventual collapse.
“The Taliban didn’t defeat us. We defeated ourselves,” McMaster told journalist Bari Weiss.
Bolton told CNN that while Biden bears “primary responsibility,” Trump would have likely made similar mistakes in Afghanistan.
Pompeo said McMaster and other critics miss the point that the Trump administration was committed to maintaining the deterrence structure that allowed the U.S. to draw down from roughly 15,000 troops in the country, to just 2,500 when Trump left office.
“We went from 15,000 troops to 2,500 troops and we still had order in Afghanistan,” he told the National Review. “There’s almost triple that number of American forces on the ground now and there’s complete chaos. So when someone asks ‘could you have maintained this?’ My response is ‘for six months after the agreement was signed we didn’t get a single American killed. We didn’t have a single Taliban attack on an American.'”
Pompeo admitted the Taliban repeatedly broke the agreement while Trump was in office, but insisted they would have learned to meet their obligations thanks to targeted American retaliation.
“They broke the agreement a number of times: they moved forces where they weren’t supposed to move, they put certain elements of the Afghan forces at risk. And every time that happened, General Scotty Miller crushed them,” he told the National Review.
“We would call them and say ‘you did X, we responded with Y,’ stop doing X.’ And we modeled a deterrence mechanism that told the Taliban if you push the Americans under Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo, there’ll be an enormous price to pay.”
White House to send more than $300 million in aid to Afghanistan despite Taliban control
The White House announced plans Tuesday to send more than $308 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as millions face starvation under the new Taliban government following President Joe Biden’s withdrawal.
The assistance would be given by the United States Agency for International Development through “independent humanitarian organizations” to the Afghan people, National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said.
The administration has been criticized for sending aid to Afghanistan previously. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned that it would be “foolish” and asserted that the Taliban “would take the money.”
“This brings total U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $782 million since October 2021, and we remain the single largest donor of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan,” Horne said, adding that the U.S. has also given 4.3 million COVID-19 doses to the Afghan people.
Assistance will “help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and healthcare shortages, drought, malnutrition, and the winter season,” Horne said.
China sent assistance to Afghanistan last month to help the nation prepare for winter and build ties between the Chinese Communist Party and the new jihadist government.
“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us,” Horne concluded. “We stand with the people of Afghanistan.”
ARTICLE: Fort Hood soldier found dead behind barracks
The soldier was identified as Spc. Maxwell Hockin, who was assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. He entered the Army in March 2017 as a combat engineer, Fort Hood officials said Wednesday.
Hockin’s awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, officials said.
Hockin had been at the Texas base since July 2017, where he was assigned to the 91st Engineer Battalion.
“The entire Saber family is devastated by the loss of our true teammate and friend Specialist Maxwell Hockin,” Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, commander, 91st Engineer Battalion, said in a statement Wednesday. “He had an outstanding work ethic, was a mentor to his peers, and was always willing to help out the team. He will truly be missed. Our thoughts and our prayers are with Maxwell’s family during this difficult time.”
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A good question How many American are still in Afghanistan… those who should know don’t.
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