Former US president Donald Trump’s last defense secretary Mark Esper and former president Barack Obama’s first defense secretary Robert Gates both said they would advise President Joe Biden against pulling all US troops out of Afghanistan in time to meet a looming May 1 deadline, according to the Washington Examiner report.
In an interview, Mark Esper, fired by Trump shortly after the November election for insufficient fealty, said the withdrawal deal negotiated with the Taliban a year ago was always contingent on conditions that the Taliban clearly have not met.
“We implemented our side of it in good faith, but it’s fair to say the Taliban have not,” Esper said, noting the Taliban have not delivered on any of their key promises, namely a reduction in violence, good faith negotiations with the Afghan government, and a full break with al Qaeda.
Esper said he would have opposed Trump’s post-election order to reduce US troop strength in Afghanistan to 2,500, which he says has effectively undercut any leverage the US had over the Taliban. “I made this clear when I was in the administration at the end, I thought we should hold it 4,500 until the conditions on the ground were met.”
“We have to make sure that again, Afghanistan doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorism. And I say that as somebody who wants to get out of there as badly as anyone else,” he said.
In the meantime, Gates said that the Taliban can’t just take all the marbles.
Robert Gates, who famously clashed with then-Vice President Biden in 2009, who resisted sending more troops to Afghanistan, now argues the “least bad option’ is for the US to stay until the Taliban get the message that the US won’t leave until they get serious about peace.
Courtesy: TOLO NEWS