Former national security adviser John Bolton criticized President Joe Biden’s order to withdraw military troops from Afghanistan and insisted that the United States had not lost the war but had merely “walked away from it.”
“We weren’t defeated,” Bolton told CNN in an interview. “You have to be defeated to lose a war. We’ve given up because we’ve lost patience. That’s a sad commentary about the current administration, but it’s not a defeat for the United States.”
Bolton also addressed recent remarks from former President George W. Bush, for whom he worked in the State Department at the time of the initial U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, Bush broke his own precedent of typically avoiding public criticism of his successors and said the consequences of calling troops back home would be “unbelievably bad” for Afghan women and young girls.
“You know, I think it is,” Bush told German news outlet Deutsche Welle when asked if the withdrawal is a mistake. “I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad.”
“I am afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm. They are scared,” he added.
Bush said the drawdown would also have a deleterious effect on Afghan interpreters who worked alongside U.S. and NATO troops.
“I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only US troops, but NATO troops and they’re just, it seems like they’re just gonna be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people, and it breaks my heart,” Bush said.
Remarking on Bush’s comments, Bolton called his criticisms “remarkable.”
“It’s how former presidents ought to behave. He’s tried to stay out of politics, and it’s been very rare when he’s come forward and said anything like the passage you just showed,” Bolton said, adding: “But I think it’s because he remembers 9/11. It’s 20 years ago now, and some people weren’t born, and a lot of people don’t remember very well. George W. Bush is never going to forget it. I think those of us who were in his administration at the time are never going to forget it.”