In a new op-ed published by The Washington Post Wednesday, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that 20 years of war in Afghanistan is not enough, arguing that more time in the country would have “served our strategic interests.”
“Twenty years may also not have been enough to consolidate our gains against terrorism and assure our own safety. We — and they — needed more time,” she wrote, claiming that “more time might have preserved our sophisticated Bagram airbase in the middle of a dangerous region that includes Pakistan and borders the most dangerous country in the Middle East — Iran.”
She also wrote that the past four U.S. presidents share blame for the crisis in Afghanistan, adding that they all made mistakes that have culminated in the Taliban retaking the country this week.
“The past years in Afghanistan have been difficult for every president, our armed forces, our allies and our country. The sacrifices of those who served — and those who died — will forever sear our national memory,” Rice wrote in the Washington Post. “Each of us who held positions of authority over those years made mistakes — not because we didn’t try or were heedless of the challenges. But the United States could not afford to ignore the rogue state that harbored those who attacked us on 9/11. The time will come to assess where we failed — and what we achieved.”
She also took a shot at President Biden’s handling of the crisis, noting he said in an address to the nation on Monday that the U.S. gave Afghans “every chance to determine their own future.
Rice suggested Biden was saying it was “as if the Afghans had somehow chosen the Taliban.”
“No — they didn’t choose the Taliban,” she continued. “They built a fledgling democracy with elected leaders who often failed but didn’t brutalize their people as so many regimes in the region do. It was a government that never managed to tame corruption and the drug trade. In this, Afghanistan had plenty of company across the globe.”
Rice worked as secretary of State under former President George W. Bush, who oversaw a blistering bombing campaign in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks as U.S. forces hunted for Osama bin Laden.
Biden, in his remarks to the nation, said he stood “squarely” behind his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country despite the chaos the pull-out has caused and reiterated his unwillingness to pass a nearly 20-year war on to a fifth American president.