Retired Gen. H.R. McMaster on Sunday criticized both the Trump and Biden administration for withdrawal plans from Afghanistan, saying the United States should have stayed the course with “a sustainable effort” that was already in place.
In an interview on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” McMaster, a national security adviser for former President Donald Trump, said the war in Afghanistan “is a one-year war fought 20 times over.”
“What's most lamentable about the policy under the Trump administration and what the Biden administration doubled down on and failed to reverse … actually strengthened the Taliban and weakened the Afghan government and security forces on our way out,” McMaster said. “If we were going to leave, why not just get the hell out? Why didn't we do that?”
According to McMaster, the war in Afghanistan “ended in self-defeat, blaming “ineffective strategies on flawed assumptions, fluid assumptions about what was necessary to achieve a sustainable outcome there.”
“We had a sustainable effort in place several years ago that, if we sustained it, we could have prevented what's happening now,” he said. “Instead, what we did, we surrendered to a jihadist organization and assumed there would be no consequences for that. We're seeing the consequences today.”
According to McMaster, there was a “series of mistakes.”
“The first was assuming it might be easy to depose the Taliban and something good happens,” he said. “So the short-term approach we took to what was a long-term problem actually lengthened the war and made it more costly.”
“The Trump administration was initially the first time we had a sound, sustainable, reasoned approach to Afghanistan in August 2017,” he said, lamenting “the president abandoned it and doubled down on the same flaws of the Obama administration.”
“How does it make sense to tell them we're leaving and say we want to negotiate a settlement? What that resulted in is concession after concession to the Taliban, and we got nothing for it.”
“As soon as you set a date, we're out by May 1, under the Trump administration, and the numbers of troops we're going to have… what can you do, except essentially effect a surrender.”
“I would like to see our government stop pretending,” McMaster added.
“A really good way to honor our service men and women who gave their lives on a modern day frontier …is to confront reality that this endless war, this forever war has not ended because we left.”
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