May 19, 2022

Former President George W. Bush blasted the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw soldiers from Afghanistan, claiming it would put civilians in danger.

“I’m afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm” after the troops finish leaving Afghanistan on Aug. 31, Bush said Wednesday on DW News. “It’s unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban.”

The US withdrawal is a mistake, and “the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad,” Bush said.

Biden, while announcing the earlier withdrawal date, pushed back claims similar to Bush’s, stating that the US has provided Afghans with “all the tools” they need to fend off the Taliban. However, certain friends and partners have expressed reservations.

The military announced July 6 that it had completed 90 percent of its troop withdrawal duties, while Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the top American general in Afghanistan, resigned Monday, and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie assumed command authority as US troops continue to withdraw from the country, according to a Department of Defense official. Miller will leave his duties during a ceremony at the top US military headquarters.

US forces departed Bagram Air Base earlier this month, which served as the Afghanistan operation’s headquarters. Around 650 troops will remain behind, mainly to assist in securing the United States Embassy in Kabul.

President Joe Biden stated on Thursday that troops will withdraw from Afghanistan on Aug. 31. This is a 12-day extension of his initial end date of Sept. 11, 2021, the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“When I announced our drawdown in April, I said we would be out by September, and we are on track to meet that target. Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on Aug. 31,” Biden said, adding “speed was safety.”

For the Taliban, Biden’s withdrawal decision represents an opportunity to reassert their authority, following a Biden administration policy review that many observers predicted would result in an extension of the US troop presence in Afghanistan in order to support the Taliban-government talks in Kabul.