August 1, 2021

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‘The consequences are going to be unbelievably bad’: Bush slams Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal – POLITICO

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Bush expressed similar concern for the fate of thousands of Afghan translators and interpreters — as well as their families — who aided U.S. and NATO forces throughout the two-decade war effort.

“It seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people,” Bush said. “And it breaks my heart.”

The remarks from the former president come as even senior Biden administration officials have acknowledged what Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby described as a “deteriorating security situation” in Afghanistan, where the Taliban claims to have overtaken 85 percent of the country’s territory.

The Islamic fundamentalist group has taken over nearly 10 percent of Afghanistan in the last week alone, according to The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and it now controls 195 of the country’s 407 districts — while contesting another 129.

Despite the escalation in the conflict, the U.S. marked one of the final phases of its drawdown on Monday with the departure of Gen. Scott Miller, the top general in Afghanistan who was among the last of the American forces on the ground.

After initially pledging a total withdrawal of U.S. troops by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Joe Biden announced last Thursday that the military mission in Afghanistan would conclude on Aug. 31.

In a speech from the White House, Biden denied that a Taliban takeover was inevitable, saying: “The likelihood that there’s going to be a Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

Biden also put the onus squarely on Afghan leadership and security forces to safeguard Kabul, assessing that “they clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place. The question is, will they generate the kind of cohesion to do it?”

Prior to announcing the U.S. withdrawal in April, Biden said he had consulted with both former President Barack Obama and Bush.

Obama said Biden had made “the right decision,” and former President Donald Trump also heralded the pull-out of U.S. forces as “a wonderful and positive thing to do.”

Bush’s initial response to Biden’s order was more muted, keeping with the former president’s tendency to avoid public criticism of his successors.

But a week after the White House’s withdrawal announcement, Bush revealed in an interview that his “first reaction” was fear for the Afghan women and girls who “are going to have real trouble with the Taliban.”

“A lot of gains have been made,” Bush told NBC’s “Today” show at the time. “And so I’m deeply concerned about the plight of women and girls in that country.”

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