Former President George W. Bush has joined the chorus of establishment figures warning against the United States’ plan to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan following two decades of war in the country.
“I’ve always warned that no U.S. presence in Afghanistan will create a vacuum, and into that vacuum is likely to come people who treat women as second class citizens,” Bush said in an interview with Fox News.
“I’m also deeply concerned about the sacrifices of our soldiers, and our intelligence community, will be forgotten,” the former president continued.
“And you know, was it necessary? I don’t think so,” he added. “But the decision has been made, and we now need to pray and hope that it is the right decision.”
Bush led the U.S.’s invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks in 2001 with the objective of destroying al-Qaeda and removing the Taliban from power.
On April 14, President Joe Biden announced he will withdraw roughly all 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by September 11, extending former President Donald Trump’s May deadline.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden stated in speech inside the White House’s Treaty Room.
“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth,” he added.
Joining Bush in expressing concern about the planned withdrawal are former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.
Clinton, who served as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama and Rice, who held the office under President George W. Bush, discussed the plan during a Zoom call with House Foreign Affairs Committee last month.
Axios reported: “[A] member of the committee confirmed both Clinton and Rice raised concerns about the potential fallout from a quick removal of all U.S. troops. Both also expressed concerns about protecting U.S. diplomats on the ground following the withdrawal and what the move will mean for the global war on terrorism. […] Both Rice and Clinton supported military intervention in the Middle East following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.”
“We had Secretaries Clinton and Condi Rice Zoom today with the committee,” an unnamed source told Axios. “A little disagreement on Afghanistan, but they both agreed we’re going to need to sustain a counterterrorism mission somehow outside of that country.”