The burgeoning humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that will ultimately become a national security risk to the U.S. is a result of failed U.S. presidential leadership, retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told Newsmax.
"When you hear that the American people don't support the war, it should come as no surprise, because our leaders haven't told the American people what they what they need to know, what they deserve to know about any kind of sustained military commitment," McMaster, who served as national security adviser from 2017 to 2018, said Monday on "Eric Bolling: The Balance."
"And that is: So, what is at stake? Why do we care, and what is a sustainable commitment? What is a strategy that will achieve a favorable outcome at an acceptable cost? Our leaders have not done that."
While the longest continuous war in U.S. history was concluding its 20th year, McMaster told host Eric Bolling that the only president who had an effective knockout strategy in Afghanistan was Donald Trump, and even Trump abandoned that strategy.
"This has not been a 20-year war; it's been a one-year war fought 20 times over with inconsistent and flawed strategies," McMaster said. "And I would say with the exception of President Trump's strategy that he announced in August of 2017 — a strategy sadly that he abandoned prematurely based, I think, on a susceptibility to this mantra of ending the endless wars."
McMaster added that President Joe Biden's mistake here is "there are no short-term solutions to long-term problems."
"This was not a foregone conclusion that Afghanistan would collapse, and he placed the blame on Afghan government leaders and Afghan security forces," McMaster said.
"This didn't have to be nation building," he continued. "Afghanistan just needed to be Afghanistan, and that's the state that the country was in, with people still enjoying those freedoms that they've enjoyed since 2001 until this tragic collapse."
McMaster blasted the Biden administration for abandoning the Afghan people and forces the U.S. helped train to fight to hold their country for so long against the Taliban insurgency.
This is "a collapse that we help bring on, sadly, by the way that we conducted our withdrawal and the way that we forced Afghan government to make concession after concession on our way out, releasing 5,000 of the most heinous prisoners [that] you can imagine — and then also just professing that we're not going to support them in any way," McMaster lamented.
"So we delivered psychological blows to the Afghan people and the government that I think actually exceeded the physical blows that they're receiving from the Taliban."
McMaster said that "this really is an endless jihad," and the U.S. will ultimately "have to go back" into Afghanistan.
"Wars don't end when one side disengages, right?" McMaster added. "Al-Qaida is not going to look around in Afghanistan now and say, 'hey, the Americans are gone; let's just stop trying to commit mass murder in our war against all civilization.'
"What we had in Afghanistan, it was ugly. It was a violent place."
McMaster added that leaving about 3,500 U.S. troops in the country to have the Afghanistan military secure their country from the Taliban "was sustainable for a long period of time," and it was working.
"Afghan society was transformed; it was transformed back to what it was before the Taliban," he said. "So much of what you hear about the Afghanistan war is utterly inaccurate, right in this 'graveyard of empires' and so forth.
"We were actually fighting alongside the Afghan people against jihadist terrorists ... along the modern-day frontier that was really between barbarism and civilization."
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