Trump: Afghanistan Withdrawal Greatest Embarrassment in US History, China 'Laughing at Us'
01:41 GMT 18.08.2021 (Updated: 03:51 GMT 18.08.2021)
According to the former American president, the US paid Afghan soldiers a "fortune", sort of "bribing" them to fight. This comes amid a barrage of claims that the United States has left Afghans who helped American troops to their fate.
Donald Trump has called the American troops' pullout from Afghanistan under the Biden administration the greatest embarrassment in US history.
"They are laughing. I extracted billions and billions of dollars out of China, never happen. We never got $0.10 from China. Billions and billions. They were so happy to see a rigged election, and they might have helped it along, actually. But they were so happy. But Sean, I will tell you what, this is the greatest embarrassment we have ever seen. And you know it better — you do an incredible job in covering it and I appreciate it," Trump said in an exclusive interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday.
The United States paid Afghan soldiers a lot, so when the US pulled out of Afghanistan, the Afghans stopped fighting, Trump said.
"I was told some very bad information by a lot of different people. The fact is they are among the highest paid soldiers in the world. They were doing it for paycheck, because once we stopped, once we left, they stopped fighting... Everybody's brave, but the fact is, our country was paying the Afghan soldiers a fortune, so we were sort of bribing them to fight," Trump said.
Trump also compared the annual state expenses for operation in Afghanistan with the Russian military budget.
"We were spending $42 billion a year. Think of it, 42 billion. I understand Russia spends $50 billion a year for their entire military, we are spending $42 billion," Trump told Hannity.
"And we get nothing," he said.
© REUTERS / STRINGERU.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops, with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani standing behind him, during an unannounced visit to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, November 28, 2019.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to U.S. troops, with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani standing behind him, during an unannounced visit to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, November 28, 2019.
Biden announced his decision to end the US military presence in Afghanistan on 14 April, which has been the longest ever US military campaign abroad. As the withdrawal was almost complete, Taliban* fighters entered Kabul and assumed power in the country on August 15.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, a technocrat, fled abroad with pockets filled with cash, following the Taliban victory. Ghani claimed his swift "transfer of power" was done to prevent what he described as bloodshed that would occur if the Taliban had to fight for the city.
© REUTERS / STRINGERU.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani during a surprise visit at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, November 28, 2019.
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani during a surprise visit at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, November 28, 2019.
Speaking about Ghani on Tuesday, Trump said: "I never had a lot of confidence, frankly, in Ghani. I said that openly... I thought he was a total crook.... I never liked him".
Going Into Middle East Was Worst Decision in US History, Trump Says
According to Trump, the current situation in Afghanistan will affect US foreign relations for decades to come.
It is a "terrible time for our country... this has been the most humiliating period of time I have ever seen," Trump said.
Trump, who had promised to bring the "endless wars" the US has waged in the Middle East to an end, negotiated a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 that was inherited by the Biden administration. The deal, signed in Qatar's Doha, envisaged a gradual withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban's commitment to not support al-Qaeda* and other terrorist groups in the region.
He, nevertheless, said that the Taliban "don't like to negotiate".
US troops invaded Afghanistan under former US president George W. Bush in 2001, as part of the infamous "war on terror", following the 9/11 terror attacks. The invasion resulted in the deaths of at least 2,448 US servicemen and over 47,200 Afghan civilians, and cost taxpayers approximately $2.261 trillion, according to the most recent estimates.
*Terrorist organizations banned in Russia