Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, described Trump’s February U.S.-Taliban peace deal as a “mistake” and “unwise policy” that in effect pits the U.S. against its allies in the Afghan government.
In a Sunday interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” to preview his forthcoming book “Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World,” McMaster, said “I think what [Trump] did with this new policy, is he, in effect, is partnering with the Taliban against, in many ways, the Afghan government. And so, I think that it’s an unwise policy.”
McMaster delivered his critical assessment after host Scott Pelley asked about a passage in McMaster’s new book in which the former national security advisor said the president “cheapened the sacrifice of the 2,300 Americans who have died in Afghanistan so far.”
McMaster said he believes the U.S. needs to keep a “sustained commitment to help the Afghan government and help the Afghan security forces continue to bear the brunt of this fight.”
The Trump administration has expressed plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan to below 5,000 by the end of November. Additionally, the administration plans to reduce the number of troops in Germany by around 12,000, which would reduce the current 36,000 force to 24,000.
“I think these are both big mistakes,” McMaster said of the withdrawals in Germany and Afghanistan. “I think they’re mistakes because they’re consistent with, I think, this sentiment that you see really across both political parties for retrenchment or withdrawal from complex problem sets overseas.”
McMaster acknowledged the American public’s views of the war in Afghanistan, which has been going for 19 years.
“Yeah, they’re tired of the wars and we lack confidence. We lack confidence because we haven’t had, I think, sound strategies and policies in place and Americans are losing faith in these efforts,” he said. “I don’t blame them.”
Trump replaced McMaster as national security advisor in March 2018 with John Bolton.
“I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, [John Bolton] will be my new National Security Advisor,” Trump said at the time he replaced McMaster. “I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster, who has done an outstanding job and will always remain my friend.”
Bolton also departed from the Trump White House in September 2019 after serving in the national security advisor position for about a year and a half. Bolton has also been critical of Trump and has written his own book about the administration, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.”