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'Breaks my heart': Ex-President Bush says Afghanistan troop withdrawal is a mistake

President Biden has defended ending the longest U.S. war, saying nation building was not the goal.
Image: George W. Bush
Former President George W. Bush, at the 2015 Father of the Year awards in New York. Laura Cavanaugh / FilmMagic

WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush called the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan a mistake because he fears how the Taliban will treat Afghan women, children and other innocent people.

“I'm afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm,” the former president told German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle from his house in Maine in an interview released Wednesday.

Asked if it’s a mistake to pull troops out of the country, Bush said, “I think it is, yeah, because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad, and I’m sad.”

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 war.

President Joe Biden announced in April that he would withdrawal U.S. troops from the country and said last week that the U.S. military mission would end on Aug. 31.

But as a result, Afghan women, Bush said, are “scared” and he said he’s worried about the fate of people who helped U.S. and NATO troops over the last two decades.

“I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only U.S. troops, but NATO troops and they're just, it seems like they're just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people, and it breaks my heart.”

In recent days, the Taliban has regained control of territory across northern Afghanistan and they are approaching the country’s capital, Kabul.

Biden has defended the rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying last week that America did not go to that region to “nation build.”

"It's the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country,” Biden said.