Speaking at a Hoover Institute debate, McMaster said this “so-called responsible end of the war in Afghanistan, which I think could be catastrophic not only for the Afghan people but for the people of the region, for Europe; and also result in increased risk from Jihadist terrorist organizations”.
McMaster said he would like to ask President Joe Biden about the “resurrection of the language of responsible end of the war”. He said this term was last used in 2011 regarding the Iraq withdrawal.
“Of course we know what happened a couple of years later with the rise of ISIS there,” he said adding whether Biden was, as such, concerned “about replicating that experience in Afghanistan in a way that creates a humanitarian catastrophe.”
McMaster has been a vehement critic of former President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban and said six months ago in an interview with CNN that the Trump administration had been “absolutely wrong” in its negotiations with the Taliban.
“I think that the Trump administration policy has been absolutely wrong since the negotiations began with the Taliban,” McMaster said.
“What I think is paradoxical about this, regrettable about it, is the Trump administration has replicated almost precisely the fundamental flaws in the Obama administration approach to Afghanistan,” he said, “and that is this flawed assumption, this belief, that there’s this bold line between the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”
There is a tendency, he said, toward “strategic narcissism — defining the world as we would like it to be and then assuming what we do is decisive to the outcome, and in this case, creating the enemy we would prefer.”
McMaster said what worries him is what “power-sharing with the Taliban” looks like?
“Is that mass executions in the soccer stadium every other Saturday? Is that every other girls’ school bulldozed?” he said. “So I’m very concerned that this negotiation process made too many concessions.”
“Forcing the Afghan government to release 5,000 of the most heinous people on earth who could form the backbone of a rejuvenated terrorist infrastructure as well as cutting a deal,” saying simply “just don’t plot against the United States,” he said.
During the CNN interview he said there are brave Afghans fighting daily to preserve the freedoms that they have achieved since the end of the Taliban regime in 2001, implying Trump’s policy was going against everything the Afghan nation has been fighting for.
“About 30 Afghan soldiers and police give their lives every day” to protect the Afghan population against “these terrorists who commit mass murder of innocent people as their principle tactic in a war against all humanity.”
He said the Trump administration’s policy towards the Taliban “is a disaster” and “it’s something I hope can be reversed.”
Six months down the line, the May 1 deadline for troop withdrawal looms but the deal, while under review, is still in place.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed this during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.
Blinken said he was at the Foreign Ministers meeting, held this week, to listen, learn and consult on what the next step would be in terms of withdrawing troops or extending their stay.