Tricksy Trump Only *Pretended* To Pull Out Of Afghanistan, Says Former (Acting) Sec Def

Tricksy Trump Only *Pretended* To Pull Out Of Afghanistan, Says Former (Acting) Sec Def

Tricksy trickster Donald Trump was only pretending to leave Afghanistan! In reality, he was planning to leave troops there to make sure the Taliban didn't get too frisky. What an amazing psych out from Arty McDeals!

So saith former (acting) Defense Secretary Christopher Miller in an interview with Defense One. Because that guy thinks we're a bunch of amnesiac bloody idiots.

In a conversation this week with Defense One, Miller revealed that while serving as the top counterterrorism official on the National Security Council in 2019, he commissioned a wargame that determined that the United States could continue to conduct counterterrorism in Afghanistan with just 800 American military personnel on the ground. And by the end of 2020, when he was acting defense secretary, Miller asserted, many Trump administration officials expected that the United States would be able to broker a new shared government in Afghanistan composed primarily of Taliban officials. The new government would then permit U.S. forces to remain in country to support the Afghan military and fight terrorist elements.

Leave aside for the moment the plausibility of the theory that 800 soldiers would be a sufficient force to bolster the Afghan government in 2019 when there were 9,000 Americans on the ground and the Taliban controlled large swathes of the country. (Click here for great maps from the BBC.)


We all saw Trump negotiate that deal with the Taliban — and by negotiate, we mean give them everything they wanted in exchange for a promise not to bed down with ISIS again. We didn't give a shit about Afghan women, or democracy, or our Afghan allies; we just wanted out. And now we're supposed to buy some horseshit retcon that there was a super-secret deal which "administration officials expected that the United States would be able to broker" to keep troops on the ground after we'd already committed to leave? Really?


On February 29, 2020, the Trump administration inked an agreement with the Taliban to GTFO of Afghanistan within 14 months. In exchange for a promise not to harbor anti-American terrorist groups in the future, the US agreed to strong-arm the elected Afghan government into releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners and to getting all US troops and military contractors out of the country in short order.

The Taliban agreed to "start intra-Afghan negotiations with Afghan sides," i.e. to talk to the elected Afghan government, but not to reach any power-sharing agreement that would, say, respect the wishes of the people. And indeed, this document clearly contemplates that the Taliban would be running the show once Americans leave, expressing the intention that "relations between the United States and the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations will be positive" and promising that the US would refrain from "intervening in its domestic affairs." Which is to say, we agreed to do jack shit when women were forced back into chattel status and the Taliban reimposed its own brutal version of Islamic law on the country.

At that point, the die was cast, because the Taliban knew that we were leaving on a date certain, at which point they could just roll in and take the rest of the country. Nothing came of the supposed "intra-Afghan dialogue" because why they hell would the Taliban negotiate for something they could simply take in a year?

There was no backroom deal to undermine that Doha agreement. We immediately started pulling troops out, forced the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban fighters, and twisted Pakistan's arm to force it to let Taliban founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar out of jail.

"We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!" Trump tweeted on October 7, hoping to fulfilling a campaign promise to bring home all the troops serving from Foreverwars in Overtherestan.

After he lost the election, Trump raced to ensure that Biden wouldn't be able to reverse the pullout, ordering an immediate drawdown to 2,500 American troops on the ground. In announcing the decision on November 17, Miller promised to "execute this repositioning in a way that protects our fighting men and women, our partners in the intelligence community and diplomatic corps, and our superb allies that are critical to rebuilding Afghan and Iraqi security capabilities and civil society for a lasting peace in troubled lands." Also on November 17, the Defense Department released a report warning that that Taliban had recently "increased its attacks against Afghan forces, leading to 'distressingly high' levels of violence that could threaten the peace agreement."

And yet Miller would like to tell you that they only put their foot on the gas because Biden won — if Trump had been given another term, he'd have been totally responsible about drawing down troops. Just like he was when we pulled out of Syria, right?

That plan never happened, in part because Trump lost his reelection bid in November. And at least one other former senior Trump administration official questioned Miller's retelling. But in revealing it, Miller challenged recent assertions that Trump is to blame for setting up this week's chaotic scenes unfolding across Kabul. Miller alleged that despite Trump's frequent public pledges to end the Afghanistan war and bring home all U.S. troops, many senior national security officials in his administration believed a total withdrawal was not inevitable.

Oh, sure. Next you'll be telling us that the DOD had a plan to "blow up the forts" to stop them falling into the hands of those "bad guys" we'd just signed a treaty with.

Look, it's inexcusable that the Biden administration hasn't spent the past seven months issuing visas to every Afghan citizen who risked their life to help us. How the hell do you pull out the troops and leave American civilians on the ground with no exit plans?

But we are not here for some fairy tale about a secret Trump plan to leave troops in country and avoid this disaster. You break it, you bought it, asshole.

[Defense One / Fact Check]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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