President Joe Biden isn't "necessarily" wrong about the call to pull troops out of Afghanistan, but precautions must also be taken to protect the Afghan government, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.
"I think right now the decision that has to be made and is critical is to continue economic and military assistance, meaning security assistance to the Afghan government," Gates, who said once in a memoir that Biden has been wrong on foreign policy decisions for four decades, told "CBS This Morning."
Gates served as secretary under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and said that he agrees with current Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their recommendations that a small group of about 2,500 troops remain in Afghanistan to bolster the country's forces.
However, he said it probably wouldn't make much difference, as the Taliban is making increasing gains and controls more of Afghanistan every day.
"Of all the possible endings in this situation, a happy one is the least likely," said Gates. "The Soviet (Union's) installed government lasted for three years after the Soviets left, and it was only when the Soviet Union collapsed and all that military and economic assistance stopped that the government collapsed."
Biden has made a decision to keep economic and security assistance coming to Afghanistan, even after troops are gone, said Gates, adding that he thinks that will be the "only prayer" Afghanistan's government will have.
The decision to pull troops out will only be successful if Afghanistan's government survives, and if women are able to remain active in business and government life while girls can stay in school, said Gates.
"That would be an outcome that we could point to that would say the country's better for our having been there, but right now our efforts to build a different kind of country in Afghanistan are looking pretty grim," said Gates.
Meanwhile, Gates has called former President Donald Trump a divider, but Trump remains a key figure in the Republican Party while it continues to struggle for unity following the 2020 election.
"I think that divisions within parties are nothing new among both Republicans and Democrats, and those divisions can be healthy as long as they're focused on programs and policies," said Gates. "It's when you get focused on personalities that I think they have the potential to become a kind of a circular firing squad, and I don't think that does the party any good at all."
Gates also discussed the upcoming Pentagon report concerning UFOs, saying that in all his years as director of the CIA and then as Defense secretary, nobody brought him evidence or information leading to alien life.
"Years ago I had a senator come to me and, and he wanted me to give him a briefing on aliens, and I said ''well, CIA doesn't handle immigrants,'" Gates recalled. "He said 'no, no, I mean aliens ... I courageously answered, well, that's the air force's problem. You know, in all seriousness, in all my years as director of Central Intelligence and Secretary of Defense, no one ever brought me any evidence or any information relating to UFOs which is not to say they're not out there. It will be interesting to see what these releases have to say."
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