Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was blunt during a recent interview when he blamed the Biden administration for the disaster that Afghanistan is suffering after the Taliban takeover. He described the situation as a “tragic failure” that could have been avoided.
Pompeo is undoubtedly one of the most authoritative voices to speak about what is happening in Afghanistan, considering that during his tenure as secretary of state, he had the responsibility of mediating and overseeing former President Donald Trump’s peace negotiations in Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
In an interview with Breitbart News published on Saturday, Aug. 21, Pompeo stressed that his plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops was utterly different from that carried out by the Biden administration. He said that “Trump’s first objective was to get civilians and military out of Afghanistan and the second was to do it in an orderly fashion seeking to reduce the risk that we would ever have an attack on the homeland from that location.”
Trump’s withdrawal plan was based on dialogue and negotiation with the different groups affected by the situation inside the country in question.
“So we spoke with the Taliban, we spoke with the Tajiks, we spoke with the Northern Alliance, folks in the West, we spoke with the Afghan government and had an agreement with the government— we were working to begin the peace and reconciliation process—an ugly, complex, almost certainly years-long endeavor.” Pompeo said.
According to the former secretary, another of the pillars when making decisions and negotiating was to make clear to the Taliban what the conditions imposed by the United States were. So, as long as those conditions were respected, the United States kept its word to withdraw forces gradually from Afghanistan.
And so, “step by step,” they went from 15,000 men down to 2,500. And if they did not reach a complete withdrawal, it was because Trump did not feel entirely satisfied or confident with the Taliban’s response and non-compliance with conditions.
Instead, Pompeo asserts, “when Biden took office, he did nothing when the Taliban continued to violate the agreement.”
“The Taliban broke the agreement a number of times during our time in office,” Pompeo said. “When they did that and when they would attack in a place that they were not permitted to, where they acted in a way that was inconsistent with their on-the-ground military obligations, we pounded them.”
Pompeo was candid in admitting that he doesn’t know for sure what the situation in Afghanistan would have been like today if the Trump administration was still in power. However, he recalls that they managed to reduce troops from 15,000 to 2,500—80% less—without any inconvenience and always maintaining control in the region.
Pompeo assured, “There’s no reason to think that we couldn’t have continued to hold that until such time as the conditions were right where we could have gotten to zero.”
In Sept. 2020, Pompeo traveled to Doha to oversee peace talks between the now-fallen Afghan government and the Taliban. Pompeo held separate meetings with representatives of both sides, including a meeting with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who now controls Afghanistan.
The negotiations were productive and led to progress in the peace process and the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. soldiers. But, according to Pompeo, Taliban forces took advantage of Biden’s weakness to take complete control of Afghanistan and seize control of the capital, Kabul, breaking all their promises.
Moreover, the mistake was made of withdrawing soldiers first, leaving thousands of civilians and tons of weapons at the mercy of the Taliban.