Former Afghanistan president slams US-led military campaign as a failure ahead of planned withdrawal

Former Afghanistan president slams US-led military campaign as a failure ahead of planned withdrawal

The former president of Afghanistan has lambasted the United States military effort in his country, saying the mission failed to achieve any of the goals it set out nearly 20 years ago when it arrived. 

Hamid Karzai assumed office in Afghanistan just three months after the attack on Sept. 11 and only two months after the U.S. and NATO forces arrived in his country to hunt and destroy al-Qaida. He remained in office for 13 years, working with the U.S. for over a decade, and what he saw was a disappointment. 

Karzai claimed that extremism is at its “highest point” ahead of the planned drawdown of U.S. forces from his country and that the U.S. had failed to live up to its promises. 

Dec. 14, 2011: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, unseen, at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Dec. 14, 2011: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, unseen, at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability … but extremism is at the highest point today,” Karzai said during an interview with the Associated Press. “So they have failed.” 

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“We recognize as Afghans all our failures, but what about the bigger forces and powers who came here for exactly that purpose?” he added. “Where are they leaving us now? In total disgrace and disaster.”

Karzai argues that Afghanistan would have been “better off” without the U.S. intervention; further, he accused the forces of instead waging a campaign “against Afghan villages and hopes.” 

Former President Donald Trump initiated a plan to withdraw U.S. troops from the country, intending to complete the withdrawal of all regular troops by May 2021. President Biden changed that timeline when he took office, instead aiming to withdraw troops by Sept. 11, 2021. 

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“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” Biden said when he announced the new deadline. “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

The decision to withdraw the troops was already an unpopular one, and Biden’s commitment to the withdrawal has only further frustrated a number of U.S. officials. 

Former President George W. Bush in April warned that the decision to withdraw troops from the country would provide opportunities to the Taliban that he hoped the U.S. would not come to regret.

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“My first reaction was, wow, these girls are going to have real trouble with the Taliban,” Bush said. “A lot of gains have been made, and so I’m deeply concerned about the plight of women and girls in that country.”

President Biden will meet with the current president of Afghanistan on June 25 as a means of demonstrating “the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military drawdown continues.”

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“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people by providing diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian assistance to support the Afghan people, including Afghan women, girls and minorities,” a White House statement read. “The United States will remain deeply engaged with the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.”

Peter Aitken is a New York born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.