Mike Pence: Trump would have kept US troops in Afghanistan despite Taliban deal

Former US Vice President, Mike Pence, has said that the Trump administration would have kept thousands of US troops in Afghanistan, despite the deal with the Taliban.

Pence said in an interview with CBS News on Sunday that he believed in keeping US troops in Afghanistan to support the US efforts against “terrorist elements” in the country and the region.

When asked by CBS News about the recent report by the US State Department on the fault lines of the Biden administration and also the Trump administration in dealing with the chaotic withdrawal in August 2021, Pence blamed US President Joe Biden for what happened.

“The responsibility for that disastrous withdrawal falls squarely on President Joe Biden and the American people know it,” Pence told CBS News.

“Under our administration, I promise you, that while it was the intention of the former president to pull our troops out when the Taliban broke the deal and moved into Mazar-e-Sharif and Joe Biden did nothing, that set into motion the catastrophe that became Afghanistan and the heartbreaking end to 20 years of conflict.” He added.

The former US Vice President indicated that the Trump administration would not have pulled out all US troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban were closing on Kabul in August 2021 and the US were struggling to evacuate as many people as possible.

“I will tell you with deep conviction that disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan would never have happened under our administration because we would have held the Taliban to the deal. And I believe at the end of the day, Afghanistan would be a much different place today.” Pence indicated in the interview.

The Trump administration negotiated and signed the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020, which paved the way for the US withdrawal and the Taliban’s return.

Despite managing to evacuate over 120,000 people to safety, the US left tens of thousands of others behind, including those who had assisted the US over the past two decades. A suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in late August 2021 claimed the lives of 13 US military personnel and 170 civilians who were trying to flee the country,

The State Department’s report on Friday blamed both the former Trump administration and the Joe Biden administration for a number of shortcomings and failure to manage the crisis that eventually led to the tumultuous withdrawal and significantly contributed to the instability in the country.

The report asserted that the decisions of both President Trump and President Biden to end the US military mission in Afghanistan had “serious consequences for the viability of the Afghan government and its security.”

The report further revealed that “The AAR team found that during both administrations, there was insufficient senior-level consideration of worst-case scenarios and how quickly those might follow.”