MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan blasts Bush administration for its 'many gross mistakes' in Afghanistan

MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan blasts Bush administration for its 'many gross mistakes' in Afghanistan

The United States' 20-year war in Afghanistan came to a painful conclusion this month when the Taliban regained control of the country for the first time since 2001. On August 17, MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan looked back on the George W. Bush Administration's actions in Afghanistan 20 years ago, lambasting Bush and the late Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for some of their foreign policy blunders.

Hasan, filling in for MSNBC's Chris Hayes, told viewers, "No matter whether you were for or against the War in Afghanistan, I think most observers agree that the way it's been brought to an end has been a disaster. The Taliban is again in control of the country, and in addition to political power, they've got their hands on U.S.-supplied military equipment — including guns, ammunition and combat aircraft. So, we all agree, it's bad right now. Did you know there was a good chance we could have avoided all of this?"

Hasan continued, "That's because in December 2001, the Taliban seemed to be on the verge of striking a deal with the Afghan government to surrender. This was at a time when the Taliban itself said they were finished as a political force. But Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense at the time, rejected the idea…. He wanted an unconditional surrender. How did that work out? Just to be clear, no one is saying that Afghanistan would have become peaceful or violence-free — only that we wouldn't have spent the next 19 years fighting an unwinnable war."

Hasan went on to note some of the casualties that occurred in Afghanistan during the war, including 2448 U.S. military members killed, over 47,200 Afghan civilian casualties and 66,000 Afghan military and police casualties. The total price tag of the war, he added, was $2 trillion.

Hasan explained, "That the Bush Administration failed to end the war early on is one of the many gross mistakes that they made, including allowing Osama bin Laden to escape Afghanistan…. Bush and company were obsessing over the next war in Iraq and diverted attention away from Afghanistan. They allowed al-Qaeda to regroup."

According to Hasan, all four of the United States' last four presidents — Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now, Joe Biden — bear some responsibility for the tragic outcome in Afghanistan.

"For 20 years," Hasan told viewers, "we tried to and failed to defeat the Taliban. Now, we leave the country with the Taliban emboldened and in charge."

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