U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is a “mistake” that could lead to a grim future for the Afghan people, says retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie.
“I respect his authority. He’s a compassionate man, but I think he’s made a mistake,” Leslie said Wednesday in an interview with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.
“My daughter fought in Afghanistan. I fought in Afghanistan. If you pull out too soon, until the conditions for an eventual sharing of power between the various warring elements are established, there’s a danger that my grandkids could go to Afghanistan,” Leslie told host Vassy Kapelos.
Biden announced Wednesday that all American troops will be pulled from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that prompted America’s invasion.
NATO also announced Wednesday it would start withdrawing troops from the country by May 1.
“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is degraded … in Afghanistan. And it’s time to end the forever war,” said Biden.
The U.S. president pushed back at critics calling for a conditions-based agreement, telling Americans he has heard no good answers on just what conditions would be necessary to allow for troop withdrawal.
“So when will it be the right moment to leave? One more year, two more years, 10 more years? Ten-, 20-, 30-billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent?” asked Biden.
The two-decade war has killed more than 2,400 U.S. troops, wounded more than 20,000 and cost as much as $1 trillion US.
“I’m not trying to second guess the president … but the danger is that resurgence of the Taliban and even more vicious elements is more likely with the Americans and the NATO troops departing then ever before,” said Leslie, who served as deputy commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan.
“The departure of the Americans will probably result in a relatively grim future for the Afghan people,” he added.
Canada joined the Americans in the war in Afghanistan in 2001, but wrapped up its combat role in 2011 before pulling its final troops from the country in 2014.
In total, 158 Canadian troops died in the war and an estimated 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.