Pete Hegseth discussed his deployment to Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops after inhabiting the country for two decades.
PETE HEGSETH: Today, I went back and read the letters I wrote home from Afghanistan. It was like reading letters from a guy being slowly mugged by reality. We could surge and conduct counterinsurgency all we wanted. It wasn’t going to matter. Afghanistan didn’t want freedom and our commitment wasn’t enduring. The operation was doomed to fail. We knew it then and we know it today.
One of my letters home included this doozy: “The lack of education and level of ignorance in Afghanistan is staggering. Literally, only one in ten men who join the Afghan National Army can write his own name, and only slightly more can count.” So the guys who can’t read and can’t count, we’re going to fight off the Taliban and surely manage the sophisticated military equipment we were giving them.
The Afghan National Government is a western fabrication. 97% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, their economy, 97% is linked to foreign aid. The real economy is drugs. It’s opioids. Outside of their capital city of Kabul, there is no real infrastructure and no education. We built schools and hospitals and then our Afghan friends stole the furnishings and the Taliban blew them up. Now, some elite and well-trained Afghans will fight, but most can’t or won’t. The real power has been and remains with the warlords and the Taliban.
The headlines each day underscore this as the Taliban take more and more ground. The border with Pakistan was never even close to being closed. So we fought the war next to a giant safe zone for the enemy on an arbitrary line. Should we keep fighting this? Hell, no. Should we learn from it? We’d better.
I feel horrible for the Afghan people, especially women and girls. But it’s their country now. We stayed too long, our soldiers did all they could while our generals and politicians dithered for two decades, our last job is to get our Afghan advisors and interpreters out of there, now. Reports out today signal that the Biden administration will announce the start of Operation Allied Refuge, a US Air Force-led airlift to evacuate tens of thousands of our Afghan allies. Let’s hope this operation goes better than the last one.”
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