Former US President Donald Trump admitted on Tuesday that America destroyed the Middle East by invading Afghanistan almost 20 years ago.
In a clear swipe against former Republican President George W. Bush, Trump told Sean Hannity on his Fox News that US involvement in the Middle East over the past two decades was a disaster.
“I know the Bush family will not be happy, but I believe it was the worst decision in the history of our country when we decided to go into the Middle East,” Trump said. “It’s turned out to be quicksand. And do you think it’s better now than it was 20, 21 years ago? It’s much worse.”
Going into the Middle East the “worst decision”
“It was the worst decision of our country when we decided to go into the Middle East,” Trump added. “You can do a big strike of retribution for the attack on the World Trade Center, but to be stuck there was a terrible thing.”
Trump also labeled the Biden administration’s handling of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan the “greatest embarrassment in the history of our country.”
“I don’t think in all of the years our country has ever been so humiliated. I don’t know if you call it a military defeat or a psychological defeat,” Trump said.
Criticizing President Biden, Trump said the U.S. needs “a president that’s respected.”
The comments come amid a chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, with Taliban fighters now in control of the country.
The Trump administration brokered a deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban in February 2020 intended to set the stage for an eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. When asked about the deal, Trump claimed he threatened to strike the village of Taliban leader Mullah Baradar if “anything bad” happened to Americans during a troop withdrawal.
“I told him upfront . . . if anything bad happens to Americans . . . we will hit you with a force that no country has ever been hit with before,” Trump said. “And your village — and we know where it is, and I named it — will be the first one: the first bombs will be dropped right there.”
Trump also praised the Taliban, calling them “smart” and “good fighters.
“The Taliban, good fighters I will tell, you, good fighters. You have to give them credit for that. They’ve been fighting for a thousand years; what they do is they fight,” the former President said.
Many commentators, however, pointed out that Trump’s claim is false. The Taliban was founded in September 1994 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Composed of fighters called the Mujahideen, they took control of the capital of Kabul in 1996, but lost power in 2001 after American forces invaded.
Trump interview follows at 30’20” in the following video:
In a televised address earlier in the week, Biden defended his decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan. The President gave a harrowing context for his position, reminding his audience that the war in Afghanistan has been ongoing for the past 20 years — and has changed hands between four different American presidents.
“The choice I had to make as your President was either to follow through on the agreement to drawdown our forces,” Biden said in his speech, “or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat and lurching into the third decade of conflict.”
In a statement released earlier in the week former President George W. Bush expressed his sorrow at events in Afghanistan but added that US presence there prevented further terrorist attacks.
Bush hailed the role of the military: “Some of your brothers and sisters in arms made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. Each day, we have been humbled by your commitment and your courage. You took out a brutal enemy and denied Al Qaeda a safe haven while building schools, sending supplies, and providing medical care. You kept America safe from further terror attacks, provided two decades of security and opportunity for millions, and made America proud.”
Scenes from the evacuation of Afghanistan
Harrowing scenes from the evacuation unfolded earlier on Monday, where many who were desperate to leave the country rushed the Kabul airport. The evacuation quickly devolved into chaos, with moments of palpable horror playing out as thousands of people ran onto the tarmac in a frenzied rush to try to make it onto airplanes that were leaving the war-torn country for the last time.
Some were so desperate to escape the clutches of the Taliban that they somehow crammed into the wheel wells of a US military jet as it took off, later plunging to their deaths.
Three people were seen falling from the jet as it flew over buildings in the Afghan capital; their bodies landed on the flat roofs of the buildings.
At least seven people died in the Monday morning chaos, according to U.S. officials, as America’s longest war ended in another scene of horror reminiscent of Saigon in 1974, with locals clinging to airport structures to try to force their way onto the last aircraft leaving the country.