George W. Bush Criticizes Afghanistan Withdrawal: Fears for Women and Girls

US President George W. Bush (R) walks with Interim Leader of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai as t

Former U.S. President George W. Bush criticized the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan on Wednesday, using an interview with a German broadcaster to outline his fears Afghan women and girls will “suffer unspeakable harm.”

Asked in an interview with German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) whether the withdrawal is a mistake, Bush replied: “You know, I think it is, yeah, because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad.”

As Breitbart News reported, Bush was made aware of the withdrawal plan ahead of time back in April.

On that occasion, President Joe Biden commended his predecessor, saying “he and I have had many disagreements over policy throughout the years, we’re absolutely united in our respect and support for the valor. The courage and integrity of the women and men in the United States Armed Forces who served, and immensely grateful for the bravery and backbone they have shown through nearly two decades of combat deployments.”

In his first year as president, Bush launched the war in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to topple the Taliban-run government and target al-Qaeda. It became America’s longest engagement.

More than 2,400 U.S. troops died and more than 20,000 were wounded during the 20 years of war there that cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion, according to the Cost of War Project.

The withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops set in motion earlier this year by Biden is now nearing completion. Taliban fighters have been surging through district after district, taking control of large swaths of the country as well as seizing border control points.

In the DW interview, which marked outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s final official visit to the U.S., Bush said Merkel had supported the deployment in Afghanistan in part “because she saw the progress that could be made for young girls and women in Afghanistan.”

“I’m sad,” Bush said. “Laura (Bush) and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they’re scared. And I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only U.S. troops but NATO troops, and it seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart.”

The Taliban has reportedly overtaken 85 percent of Afghan territory in recent weeks as the United States leads the withdrawal along with allied members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (N.A.T.O.).

The U.S. and N.A.T.O. are terminating a nearly 20-year-long joint military operation in Afghanistan that launched in 2001 with the ouster of the Taliban from the Afghan government.

AP contributed to this story

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