Chris Wallace Confronts Pompeo: Do You Regret Giving Taliban ‘Legitimacy’?
Amid the widespread criticism that’s been thrown at the Biden administration over the collapse of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace kept it fair and balanced on Sunday morning when he confronted former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his own record of legitimizing and emboldening the Taliban.
With the Taliban essentially taking over the entire country in a matter of a few short weeks and the Afghan president fleeing the country after the group surrounded the capital of Kabul, Pompeo appeared on Fox News Sunday to blast President Joe Biden for supposedly folding to the Taliban.
“It looks like the Biden administration has just failed in its execution of its own plan,” the former Trump secretary of state said. “It looks like they are now trying to get folks out. This reminds me of when we have seen previous administrations allow embassies to be overrun, it’s starting to feel that way. It also looks like there’s a bit of panic having to reinsert soldiers to get them out.”
Pompeo went on to say the Trump administration—which had previously reached a deal with the Taliban (but not the Afghan government) to withdraw all troops by May 1—had “delivered on its promise” before calling on the Biden administration to issue airstrikes against the Taliban.
“They should go crush these Taliban who are surrounding Kabul,” he bellowed. “We should do it with American airpower, we should put pressure on them, we should inflict cost and pain on them. We shouldn’t be begging them to spare the lives of Americans, we should be imposing costs on the Taliban until they allow us to execute our plan in Afghanistan.”
After Pompeo insisted that the Taliban would not “run free and wild in Afghanistan” if he and former President Donald Trump were still in office, Wallace noted that Biden appears to be placing the lion’s share of the blame on Trump for leaving him with the troop withdrawal deal.
“If the risks weren’t so serious, Chris, it would be pathetic,” Pompeo huffed. “I wouldn’t have let my 10-year old son get away from this kind of pathetic blame-shifting.”
Wallace, however, shot back, pointing out that a number of critics have said that Trump cutting a deal with the Taliban without the Afghan government even being involved was “hugely demoralizing” and led to the current chaos. (Notably, just weeks before the 2020 election, the Taliban endorsed Trump for president in the hopes he would “wind up U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.”)
Pompeo vehemently disagreed, claiming that it was “simply not true” before taking shots at the “corrupt” Afghan leaders who he said were more interested in lobbying for American money than “building up friends and coalitions and working with the Taliban.” The ex-secretary also asserted the Trump deal with the Taliban set a “conditions-based withdrawal of American soldiers.”
But the veteran Fox anchor wasn’t done pressing Pompeo on his own record with the Taliban, bringing up the fact that he was the first secretary of state to ever meet with the group and actually heaped praise on them at one point.
Airing a clip of Pompeo last year saying the Taliban would “work alongside us to destroy” Al Qaeda, Wallace pointedly asked the former secretary: “Do you regret giving the Taliban that legitimacy? Do you regret pressing the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners, which they did, some of whom are now back on the battlefield fighting with the Taliban?”
Pompeo, for his part, responded by saying “you make peace with your enemies” while also insisting that the Trump administration “never trusted the Taliban.”
He concluded: “We didn’t take the word of the Taliban, we watched their actions on the ground. When they did the right thing and helped us against terror, that was all good, and when they didn’t, we crushed them.”
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