Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back on Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) after the rep. partially blamed the Trump administration for the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, Kinzinger tweeted, “Do not let my colleagues pretend today that Trump and Pompeo didn’t set in motion the Afghanistan withdrawal. They did. I knew Pompeo in the house. He was a hawk on Afghanistan until Trump. He knew better, he owns this as well. Trump Pompeo and Biden all to blame.”
This prompted Pompeo to fire back, saying, “Adam Kinzinger repeatedly asked me for job in Trump Admin (Air Force Sec, Amb), and for wife. Now attacks our Afghan plan that saw no US fatalities/no Taliban takeover/no Americans left behind. Adam, I enjoyed our work in Congress. What’s happened to you? YOU should know better.”
Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran, has long been critical of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. In August 2021, Kinzinger wrote, “The Taliban has always said that America has the watches, but they have the time. Under both President Trump and President Biden, the U.S. announced that our time in Afghanistan is over, effectively letting the Taliban know they were right, they could simply outwait us. And today, we watched as the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban regained full control.”
“This is the result of a shortsighted, weak, and utter failure of both the previous White House and the current Administration,” he continued. “The naïve Trump Administration legitimized the Taliban by having ‘talks’ with them about peace and openly negotiating with terrorists, while the Biden Administration tried to fulfill a campaign promise without any semblance of a plan or forethought into how this would play out.”
Pompeo, on the other hand, placed the blame solely on the Biden administration. In August 2021, Pompeo, on Fox News with then-host Chris Wallace, talked about the withdrawal as it was occurring.
“It looks like the Biden administration has just failed in its execution of its own plan,” Pompeo told Wallace. “This reminds me of when we have seen previous administrations allow embassies to be overrun. It’s starting to feel that way. It also looks like there’s a bit of panic having to reinsert soldiers to get them out. The plan should have been, much like we had, was that we would have an orderly conditions-based way to think about how to draw down our forces there.”
Wallace then brought up the administration’s attempt to blame former President Trump for the withdrawal.
“President Biden released a statement yesterday in which, in effect, he blamed President Trump and your administration for the deal that you made with the Taliban back in 2020, which resulted in a promise at that time — that President Trump had stayed in office — to pull all troops out by this past May,” Wallace said in the interview, then quoting Biden saying, “When I became president, I faced a choice: follow through on the deal or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”
“If the risks weren’t so serious, Chris, it would be pathetic,” Pompeo replied. “I wouldn’t have let my 10-year old son get away from this kind of pathetic blame-shifting…. it’s worth noting, this did not happen on our watch. We reduced our forces significantly and the Taliban didn’t advance on capitals all across Afghanistan.”
“Critics say that for the U.S. to cut a deal with the Taliban without the Afghan government even in the room was hugely demoralizing and led inevitably to where we are today,” Wallace pressed.
“That’s just simply not true,” Pompeo answered. “Go read the deal. Go read the conditions that were built into the deal. I was in the room. I was at the center of working to deliver that. The Afghans were in the room. We had the Afghans all in the room for the same time in 20 years; we had Afghan leaders.”
“We were working diligently to deliver on the president’s two missions: to get our young people home, to reduce the risk of the United States from having our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines there in Afghanistan, and second, to create the conditions where we could make sure that a terror attack on the United States did not happen from there. We did it in the Philippines. We did it in Syria. We reduced terrorism risk all around the world. We would have done it in Afghanistan as well.”