Tags: Afghanistan | pompeo | biden | afghanistan | troops | trump

Pompeo: Biden 'Right' On Call to Bring Troops Back From Afghanistan

Mike Pompeo with a mic
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the West Side Conservative Club, Friday, March 26, 2021, in Urbandale, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 April 2021 02:42 PM

President Joe Biden's plan toward bringing the remaining troops home from Afghanistan is the "right thing to do," but how the administration executes the plan will be what matters, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was part of the team negotiating the United States' exit strategy with the Taliban that would have resulted in troops being out by May 1, said Wednesday before the president's official statement. 

"We reduced troops from 10,000 plus to around 2,500 on our watch, and secondly, we did everything we could to make sure we were never attacked from Afghanistan again," Pompeo, now a Fox News contributor, said on Fox News' "America Reports." 

Then-President Donald Trump, when announcing the troop drawdowns last year, said the United States was acting in Afghanistan "as a police force and not the fighting force. After 19 years, it's time for them to police their own country. Bring our soldiers back home but closely watch what is going on and strike with thunder as necessary."

In January, just before Trump left office, the military had met its goal of reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500, a drawdown that appeared at the time to violate a last-minute congressional prohibition.

At that time Biden, who had advocated keeping a small counterterrorism force in Afghanistan as a way to ensure that extremist groups like al-Qaida are unable to launch attacks on the United States, faced a number of questions on Afghanistan.

Pompeo on Wednesday said Trump's statements on Twitter reflected the strong stance the White House would take, and that he hopes the Biden administration will follow a similar stance with its call to have troops out by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. 

There are now more than 2,500 U.S. troops in the country, working alongside about 7,000 allied forces. The new deadline means Biden will leave a few thousand troops in the war-torn country beyond the May 1 target set in an agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban last year. Biden said Wednesday the withdrawal will start on May 1.

"How you execute this matters," said Pompeo. "We need to have our European partners on board, and the Taliban have an important decision to make. They have to decide if they want to be part of a pariah state and cause trouble or be part of the solution in Afghanistan? That would be the right thing for them to do. If the event they choose otherwise, the U.S. will still provide billion dollars in assistance in Afghanistan."

The Trump administration was working to make sure U.S. soldiers got out safely, and "not a single soldier" was killed since 2020, said Pompeo. "That's historic. We will make sure we are never attacked there."

But overall, it's time to bring the troops home, he stressed. 

"President Biden has it right. President Trump had it right before him. It's time to reduce our footprint inside of Afghanistan," said Pompeo. "Its leader is mostly inside of Iran and not inside of Afghanistan."

Meanwhile, the Trump administration's May 1 deadline was conditions-based, but Pompeo said he doesn't know what Biden's conditions will be. 

"It's been several months since I left," he said. "There are things that are difficult to measure, (including) whether the Taliban would have a full-scale break from Al-Qaeda. They have to do that to receive taxpayer assistance. That was also the hook."

Pompeo added that he hopes the Biden administration will take Trump's conditions seriously and not provide taxpayer money to the Afghan government, as it was connected with the Taliban when it was engaged with Al Qaeda.

"That's inappropriate," he said. "We would never permit that to happen."

Pompeo said he also believes there is international support for Biden's decision, even if there are some Republicans calling Biden's plans reckless and dangerous.

"The mission we went on 20 years ago, the destruction of Al-Qaeda and its infrastructure has been accomplished," said Pompeo. "We spent $25 million a year helping the Afghan government."

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President Joe Biden's plan toward bringing the remaining troops home from Afghanistan is the "right thing to do," but how the administration executes the plan will be what matters...
pompeo, biden, afghanistan, troops, trump
Wednesday, 14 April 2021 02:42 PM
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