Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the Taliban reclaiming control of Afghanistan as President Joe Biden oversaw the botched withdrawal from the nation following two decades of war. With that milestone, retired U.S. Army Gen. Jack Keane expressed certainty that “we’re right back where we started.”
(Video: Fox News)
Fulfilling his role as national security analyst, the four-star general joined “Fox News Sunday” and guest anchor Gillian Turner to weigh-in on the current situation in Afghanistan. Despite 20 years of American involvement, Keane described the “economic destitution” of the failed state, “people suffering” and “draconian rule” by the Taliban as entirely preventable.
“Afghanistan is a sanctuary for terrorism,” he lamented. “The very reason we went there, the very reason we stayed there for 20 years, to ensure that terrorists did not rise again to attack the American people, and we’re right back where we started.”
The Taliban are, “just shutting down all the normal cultural aspirations that a nation or a people would have,” he expressed as he detailed the second-class treatment of women in the nation.
“We went to Afghanistan to stop the Taliban from providing sanctuary to the al Qaeda from which the attack on the United States took place,” Keane explained of 9/11. “We all know that.”
“And what did this decision get us?” the general asked of the failed withdrawal. “It got us the Taliban in charge, again, providing sanctuary…to the al Qaeda, and Zawahiri’s killing resurrected the fact that he’s living in a Taliban house, in a neighborhood that I’ve been to many times where senior Taliban leaders are in residence. And obviously, they are protecting the al Qaeda leader, as well as his organization.”
Turner raised the “tremendous success” of the drone strike that took out al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and the supposed success of evacuating 125,000 people from the area, but Keane threw cold water on both those arguments as he outlined Biden’s “defiance” as he “rejected all advice” from policy makers and military leaders before he “presented a false narrative to the American people” that the only choices were “get out now or have to put thousands of American troops” back on the ground.
The “emergency evacuation…could have been prevented by the president’s decision if he took the advice of his counsels and advisors and certainly it was very tragic that we lost those soldiers going out,” he noted of the 13 U.S. service members killed days before the withdrawal deadline at Kabul airport.
“We have left 80,000 people behind who still want to get out, who we recognize as being partners of the United States,” Keane further stated showing there have been no true victories under Biden’s command on this front.
However, the administration has remained adamant that Biden’s leadership has been representative of decisive leadership and strong foreign policy acumen with National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby taking “issue with the premise that we gave a whole country to terrorist groups” at a press briefing following Zawahiri’s death.
Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy pressed him on the matter and said, “The Taliban are harboring the world’s No. 1 terrorist–how is that not giving a country to a terrorist sympathizing group, if not giving permission to have terrorists just…sit on a balcony…?”
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“Peter, the way you ask that, it makes it sound like we owned Afghanistan a year ago,” Kirby said as he endeavored to reframe the severity of the loss. “It wasn’t our country.”
“Let’s learn some lessons here,” Keane said in conclusion, “about these decisions in terms of going forward and let’s be honest with what took place and the mistakes that were made.”
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