Former President George W. Bush predicted that the Biden administration’s plan to pull troops out of Afghanistan will have “unbelievably bad” effects.
Mr. Bush, 75, told German public television Deutsche Welle from his home in Maine that he was concerned about how Afghan women would fare under Taliban rule as armed militants retake territory across northern Afghanistan.
“It’s unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban, and all of a sudden—sadly— I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm,” the former president said.
Mr. Biden is making a major mistake by departing the country, according to Mr. Bush, who initiated the war in Afghanistan during his first year as president in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad, and I’m sad,” Mr. Bush said, as reported by the Washington Times.
“Laura and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they’re scared,” he said, AP reported. “And I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only U.S. troops but NATO troops, and it seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart.”
President Biden declared last week that the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan would end on August 31, claiming that the U.S. had achieved its goal of bringing “justice” to Osama Bin Laden and weakening the terrorist threat in the region.
“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build,” the president said last Thursday, July 8. “And it’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.”
Bush told Fox News in an exclusive interview in May that he did not believe withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan was “necessary,” and that he is “deeply concerned” that a “vacuum” will be created if the US leaves the region.
“I’ve always warned that no U.S. presence in Afghanistan will create a vacuum, and into that vacuum is likely to come people who treat women as second class citizens,” Bush, who was president during the 9/11 attacks, told Fox News.
“I’m also deeply concerned about the sacrifices of our soldiers, and our intelligence community, will be forgotten,” Bush told Fox News.
“And you know, was it necessary? I don’t think so,” he continued. “But the decision has been made, and we now need to pray and hope that it is the right decision.”
Meanwhile, Biden’s remarks contradicted White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s assertion last week that the United States will not have a “mission accomplished moment.”
“It’s a 20-year war that has not been won militarily,” she told reporters.
However, Biden dismissed this argument, claiming that the U.S. had “accomplished” its mission by averting future Al Qaeda attacks and killing Usama bin Laden.
As the Taliban gained momentum, the president pushed back on some Republican proposals to stay in Afghanistan.
Biden stated that it is the Afghan people’s “right and responsibility” to decide how their country will run and the government’s responsibility to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.
The United States will continue to supply Afghani military troops with air support, as well as humanitarian and civilian aid on critical topics surrounding women’s rights.
However, Biden reaffirmed his intention to maintain a standing military force, asking, “How many thousands more of America’s daughters and sons are you willing to risk?”
“How long would you have them stay?” he continued. “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan.”
“Staying would have meant U.S. troops taking casualties,” Biden added.
More than 2,400 people have died and almost 21,000 have been injured in the United States’ longest-running conflict in Afghanistan.
During the 20-year period, American troops trained over 300,000 Afghan military and security personnel to assist them in combating the Taliban menace.
Despite the United States’ training efforts and proposed peace accord, the Taliban is believed to have taken control of at least 50 of Afghanistan’s 370 districts.