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Ret. Army Gen. McMaster blames media for Afghanistan crisis, slams overall coverage

Then Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster speaks at the U.S. Naval War (NWC) College in Newport, R.I. on March 22, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist James E. Foehl/Released)
July 09, 2021

H.R. McMaster, former United States National Security Advisor and retired United States Army lieutenant general, attacked the U.S. media’s lack-of Afghanistan War coverage Thursday, accusing the media of helping create what he believes will be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Middle Eastern nation.

“US media is finally reporting on the transformation of Afghanistan after their disinterest and defeatism helped set conditions for capitulation and a humanitarian catastrophe,” McMaster tweeted, linking to a Wall Street Journal report on how withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is impacting Afghanis and opening the door for Taliban forces.

The general’s comments come after the White House noted there would not be a “’Mission Accomplished’ moment” after the final troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan.

“We’re not going to have a ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment in this regard It’s a 20-year war that has not been won militarily. We are proud of the men and women who have served. Incredibly grateful,” Jen Psaki said. “We will continue to press for a political outcome and a political solution.”

When asked whether her remarks meant the mission in Afghanistan had not been accomplished, Psaki responded, “We did exactly what we wanted to do. What I was referring to…is we’re not having a moment of celebration. We’re having a moment where we feel it’s in our national security interest to bring our men and women serving home. And we feel it’s in our national security interest to have Afghan forces be in the lead.”

“We did exactly what we intended to do,” she added.  

During a June interview on CSPAN hosted by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, General McMaster said the war in Afghanistan was “not really a 20-year war,” but rather a “one-year war fought 20 times over,” adding that the military effort was often “utterly disconnected” from unclear political objectives.

“Afghanistan is a misunderstood war. It’s an underreported war,” McMaster said, again pointing to poor coverage in the media. “The American people, sadly, because the succession of presidents, the last three in particular, didn’t really take it upon themselves as commanders-in-chief to explain to the American people what was at stake there and what was the strategy that could deliver a favorable outcome.”

“We never had a sustained and sustainable reasoned approach to Afghanistan. Our experience there is little understood,” McMaster said. “I think the experience in Afghanistan makes a great case for maybe something like a center for military and political power because I don’t think we’ve ever really integrated all elements of national power and all elements of likeminded partners to accomplish well-defined and commonly understood objectives and goals in Afghanistan.”