Moved by the imminent 20th anniversary of 9/11, former President Trump appeared on Newsmax Tuesday night and delivered a stark message about American security. He said he rebuilt the U.S. military only to see it humiliated in Afghanistan.
"That was a day like no other day," Trump told Tuesday's "Rob Schmitt Tonight" of 9/11 in an exclusive interview. "That's why we have to be careful. That's why we rebuilt our military. Unfortunately, they gave some of what I had rebuilt – we built it – they gave it to the Taliban. Can you believe that?"
According to the former president, not only did President Joe Biden's military botch the troops' withdrawal from the longest-running war in American history by doing it unconditionally, our enemy has been empowered in the process.
Trump told host Rob Schmitt: "Brand new Apache, the most incredible weapon you've ever seen, the Apache helicopters, brand new – brand new out of the box, as they say – and they got 'em."
He was referring to Taliban fighters who took over the country without a fight from the U.S.-trained Afghan army. "And they're giving them to China, and they're giving them to Russia, and Iran, and they're studying them because they want to make them just like that."
In a wide-ranging 15-minute interview, Trump denounced Biden for what he deemed a failed execution of a withdrawal without first securing evacuations for American citizens, and while leaving sophisticated weapons and other materiel behind.
"Look at what's happened to our country in the past eight months," Trump said. "I don't think our country has every seen a period like this, how badly we're doing.
"The worst of all is what took place in Afghanistan. That withdrawal was the most incompetently handled withdrawal, or anything else, in the history of our country. We're embarrassed in front of the world. Giving them $850 billion of the best military equipment in the world, there's never been a greater embarrassment than we've suffered this last week."
Schmitt asked Trump about early Biden attempts to fault the Trump administration for withdrawal problems. Trump reiterated a recent talking point in asserting that the Taliban knew to not "mess around" when he was president; Biden, he said, was the one who failed to hold the Taliban accountable for sticking to the previous administration's conditions-based withdrawal.
"You just take a look at the last few months, that's when the whole thing fell down," Trump said. "I was not there. And it all fell down.
"Can you imagine getting the military out, before you get your citizens, American people out?" Trump continued. "They took the military out first. We would have taken it out last.
"And, by the way, they didn't meet the conditions. And every time they didn't meet the conditions, we bombed them."
Trump referred to strong actions by his administration to eradicate the Islamic State caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and to a strike aimed at taking out Iranian QUDS force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
"This was easy by comparison, and what they did was a disgrace to this country," Trump said of the Biden withdrawal. "I heard they tried to blame me at the beginning, but now they're getting shot down even by the liberal media."
Trump again lamented that Biden has armed the Taliban, the Afghanistan leadership that allowed al-Qaida to train for the 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil 20 years ago this week.
"Now they have one of the best-equipped armies in the world, can you believe it?" Trump said. "From having knives to having the best planes and tanks and trucks.
"Why didn't we take it out? It's not even conceivable we didn't take this stuff out.
"We left them airplanes, helicopters, why didn't we fly that stuff out? Billions of dollars."
Trump said he knew – as all "smart people knew" – the Afghan army did not have the "heart" to hold back the Taliban, particularly under the now-exiled President Ashraf Ghani.
"The United States paid a fortune for these people to fight a war," Trump said. "They weren't fighting from their heart. They were fighting because they were being paid a lot of money. Smart people knew they were going to give up immediately and go to the other side. They basically went to the other side immediately. It's disgraceful."
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