Mike Pompeo, who served as the director of the CIA and the secretary of state in the Trump administration, slammed President Joe Biden during an interview on Sunday after Biden tried to blame the Trump administration for the situation unfolding on the ground in Afghanistan.
“It looks like the Biden administration has just failed in its execution of its own plan,” Pompeo told Fox News host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “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. The plan should have been, much like we had, was that we would have an orderly conditions-based way to think about how to draw down our forces there.”
Pompeo then highlighted some of the foreign policy challenges that the administration has faced, including “Iranian rockets land[ing] in Israel,” handing “a pipeline back to the Russians,” and allowing “the Chinese to castigate our senior leadership in Anchorage.”
“Were I still the secretary of state with a commander in chief like President Trump, the Taliban would have understood that there were real costs to pay if there were plots against the United States of America from that place,” Pompeo said. “Qassem Soleimani learned that lesson, and the Taliban would have learned it as well.”
Pompeo then responded to Biden trying to deflect blame onto former President Donald Trump.
“If the risks weren’t so serious, Chris, it would be pathetic,” Pompeo said. “I wouldn’t have let my 10-year old son get away from this kind of pathetic blame-shifting. He should be less focused on trying to blame this on someone else than to solving the problem of making sure that we protect and defend American security. Chris, it’s worth noting this did not happen on our watch. We reduced our forces significantly and the Taliban didn’t advance on capitals all across Afghanistan. So it’s just a plain old fact that this is happening under the Biden administration’s leadership now almost a quarter of our way into his first term, this is not the way leaders lead, by pointing backwards.”
“We had a bad deal we inherited — the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal]; we got out of it,” Pompeo continued. “We secured America from the risk from Iran. We inherited a horrible deal in Syria where ISIS controlled real estate the size of Great Britain. We crushed them. Every president confronts challenges. This president confronted a challenge in Afghanistan. He has utterly failed to protect the American people from this challenge.”
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA FOX NEWS:
MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Chris, thanks for having me on this morning.
WALLACE: How dire is the situation in Afghanistan as we talk today? Is a full Taliban takeover of the country now inevitable?
POMPEO: Well, Chris, it certainly looks like it. It looks like the Biden administration has just failed in its execution of its own plan. 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. The plan should have been, much like we had, was that we would have an orderly conditions-based way to think about how to draw down our forces there. We actually delivered on that promise. I hope we get these folks out. I hope they’ll bring the airpower. They should go crush these Taliban who are surrounding Kabul. We can do it with American airpower. We should put pressure on them. We should put — 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.
WALLACE: There are a lot of questions here. Let me start with the one that I think is most important to the American homeland. If — I guess we should say when the Taliban takes over, what does it mean for U.S. national security? Can we, as the Biden administration promises, from over the horizon, deal with a terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland from inside Afghanistan?
POMPEO: Well, Chris, this is one of the most important questions, it depends on a couple of things. The first is the context for American security policy. So think about what’s happening. The Taliban are aggressive and they are fearless because we have an administration that has refused to adopt a deterrence model, the one that President Trump and I had, right (ph)? We’ve had Iranian rockets land in Israel. We’ve handed a pipeline back to the Russians, right? We’ve allowed the Chinese to castigate our senior leadership in Anchorage, and now we’re letting the Taliban to run free and wild all around Afghanistan. They have to understand that there’s in an administration with a backbone and a seriousness to execute on the things that matter and protect and defend America. So, this gets to the larger challenge, what will the Taliban believe that the Americans are prepared to do if they begin to play footsie with al Qaeda or let ISIS begin to grow in Afghanistan? If it’s like the Carter administration and the Obama administration and now what appears to be the first seven months of the Biden administration, the Taliban will feel free to do this. I can assure you. Were I still the secretary of state with a commander in chief like President Trump, the Taliban would have understood that there were real costs to pay if there were plots against the United States of America from that place. Qassem Soleimani learned that lesson, and the Taliban would have learned it as well.
WALLACE: President Biden released a statement yesterday in which, in effect, he blamed President Trump and your administration for the deal that you made with the Taliban back in 2020, which resulted in a promise at that time — that President Trump had stayed in office — to pull all troops out by this past May. I want to read you some of what President Biden said in his statement.
“When I became president, I faced a choice: follow through on the deal or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”
Mr. Secretary, what do you think of President Biden’s attempt here to blame — to pin all the blame for what’s transpired in these last few weeks on the deal he says he, quote, “inherited” from President Trump and from you?
POMPEO: If the risks weren’t so serious, Chris, it would be pathetic. I wouldn’t have let my 10-year old son get away from this kind of pathetic blame-shifting. He should be less focused on trying to blame this on someone else than to solving the problem of making sure that we protect and defend American security. Chris, it’s worth noting, this did not happen on our watch. We reduced our forces significantly and the Taliban didn’t advance on capitals all across Afghanistan. So it’s just a plain old fact that this is happening under the Biden administration’s leadership now almost a quarter of our way into his first term, this is not the way leaders lead, by pointing backwards. We had a bad deal we inherited — the JCPOA. We got out of it. We secured America from the risk from Iran. We inherited a horrible deal in Syria where ISIS controlled real estate the size of Great Britain. We crushed them. Every president confronts challenges. This president confronted a challenge in Afghanistan. He has utterly failed to protect the American people from this challenge.
WALLACE: But I have to say, it isn’t just President Biden who says this. When we announced that you are going to be a guest on this program, a former top military commander in Afghanistan and a current top Republican member of Congress, both talked about the deal that the Trump administration and you negotiated back in 2020 with the Taliban to pull out all U.S. forces. Here was President Trump when he was in office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Basically, we’re policeman right now, and we’re not supposed to be policeman. We’ve been there — we’ve been there for 19 years in Afghanistan. It’s ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Critics say that for the U.S. to cut a deal with the Taliban without the Afghan government even in the room was hugely demoralizing and led inevitably to where we are today.
POMPEO: Yeah, Chris, that’s just simply not true. Go read the deal. Go read the conditions that were built into the deal. I was in the room. I was at the center of working to deliver that. The Afghans were in the room. We had the Afghans all in the room for the same time in 20 years; we had Afghan leaders. Not just the corrupt leader, Ghani. I mean, think about President Ghani, he spent all of his time lobbying Washington, D.C., Republicans and military leaders, the same folks you probably just talked about. If he’d have spent that time building [out] friends and coalitions and working with the Taliban himself, we could have gotten to reconciliation. Instead, he took money for his own good and then came to Washington to lobby for more American money, billions of dollars. He spent more time in Washington than he did talking to his own people. We negotiated a deal that [performed] a basis for the conditions-based withdrawal for American soldiers. I’m proud of the work that we did there. We brought a lot of young kids home. We saved a lot of American lives. We were working diligently to deliver on the president’s two missions: to get our young people home, to reduce the risk of the United States from having our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines there in Afghanistan, and second, to create the conditions where we could make sure that a terror attack on the United States did not happen from there. We did it in the Philippines. We did it in Syria. We reduced terrorism risk all around the world. We would have done it in Afghanistan as well.
WALLACE: I just want to ask you one more question about your record though, sir. You were the first American secretary of state to ever meet with the Taliban, and you talked about how they had agreed to join us in the fight against terrorism. Here you are, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: The gentleman I met with agreed that they would break that relationship and that they would work alongside of us to destroy, deny resources to, and to have al Qaeda depart from that place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: 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: Chris, you make peace with your enemies. The statement that I made that day was absolutely true. You can ask the military leaders on the ground. We did good work to crush al Qaeda. When we left office, there were fewer than 200 al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. Chris, we never trusted the Taliban. You can ask them yourselves. We made abundantly clear if they did not live up to that piece of paper, to the words that they had put on the ground, we weren’t going to allow them to just walk away from any deal that they had struck, we were going to go crush them. We were going to impose real costs on them. We were going to let them take these provincial capitals. They understood that American power was going to come to their village, to their community, to [the] friends and family around them, and we were going to make sure that they understood America wasn’t going to allow Americans to be killed from this place. We didn’t take the word of the Taliban. We watched their actions on the ground. When they did the right thing and they helped us against terror, that was all good. And when they didn’t, we [crushed] them.
WALLACE: Finally, and I want — I got about two minutes here, sir. You graduated first in your class from West Point in 1986, and I’m sure you vividly remember that it was just a decade earlier in 1975 when the U.S. pulled out of Saigon and you saw U.S. diplomats, Vietnamese people who had been sided with us, clamoring on to helicopters on the embassy roof, which scarred our country and our military for years. What you think the fall of Afghanistan is going to say to our allies and to our enemies? And what you think it’s going to mean for our image of ourselves?
POMPEO: Chris, that’s a very important question. I think weak American leadership always harms American security. So, this is in the context of a Biden administration that has basically abandoned the global stage in favor of climate change. They’ve been focused on Critical Race Theory while the embassy is at risk. That didn’t happen during our four years. I do think there’s a real risk here. I think our soldiers, sailors, our junior enlisted soldiers have done amazing work along the way. But I think the senior military leadership that had 20 years to build out these coalition forces, the Afghan national security forces, has to fundamentally rethink the training that they provided them, the weapons they provided them, how they were thinking strategically about handing this battle off to the Afghan people, and we had a president in Afghanistan who wasn’t prepared to do the right thing for his own national security, for his own country. I think that political failure and that military failure is something that we’re going to have to take a long, hard look at to make sure that we are always securing American freedom.
WALLACE: Secretary Pompeo, thank you. Thanks for your time this Sunday. Always good to talk with you, sir.