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[WATCH] Former Trump Defense Sec Says He Never Intended to Go Through with Afghanistan Plan

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday that he was concerned that Donald Trump “undermined” the United States’ 2020 agreement with the Taliban by pushing for US forces to leave Afghanistan without the Taliban meeting the conditions of the deal.

The Trump administration’s “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” outlined a series of commitments from the US and the Taliban related to troop levels, counterterrorism, and intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at bringing about “a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After years of negotiations, the Taliban and the Trump administration finally signed a peace deal in 2020. The US agreed to withdraw troops and release some 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while the Taliban agreed to take steps to prevent any group or individual, including al Qaeda, from using Afghanistan to threaten the security of the US or its allies. But the deal didn’t bring about peace.

Following the agreement, violence in Afghanistan grew to its highest levels in two decades and the Taliban increased their control of wider swaths of the country. Although Afghan security forces were well funded and well equipped, they put up little resistance as Taliban militants seized much of the country following the withdrawal of US troops beginning in early July. Now factions within the Biden administration are embroiled in a blame game over why the US government didn’t act sooner to withdraw American citizens and Afghans who helped the US over two decades of war, leading to a rushed and dangerous evacuation.

In his first public comments since the Taliban solidified control of Kabul, President Joe Biden on Monday laid blame on the Afghan security forces’ unwillingness to fight and the decisions of previous administrations — including the Trump administration — while failing to directly address the chaos unfolding on his watch. President Biden conceded that the Taliban takeover happened faster than anticipated, though he said he stands “squarely behind” his decision.

Esper appeared on Christine Amanpour to explain how Trump’s plan was never actually going to be put into practice, although his explanation seemed to fall short.

Watch Esper’s interview here.

 



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