Barack Obama's former defense secretary revealed the "huge mistake" Donald Trump made to ensure Afghanistan's swift collapse.
Chuck Hagel, who led the Department of Defense from 2013 to 2015, said the collapse was set in motion early last year by former president Trump, and he said that mistake was entirely avoidable.
"That process started early last year when President Trump decided that we were coming out, and he said to the nation, we're going to be out by May of this year, and he started the peace process without including the Afghan government," Hagel said. "That was a huge mistake, in my opinion -- same thing we did in Vietnam. Well, once we did that, that sent a very, very clear signal not only to the Taliban but also to the Afghan forces and the Afghan government that we were leaving them behind. We were coming out no matter what, and the Taliban understood that."
"In fact, I mentioned in the last two years they've gained ground," he added. "Any measurement of where the Taliban has been and was going over the last two years was that they were controlling more than half, maybe 60 percent of Afghanistan, so if anybody was just paying attention to this a little bit, you'd understand where this was going. But when President Trump said, we're coming out, we did the Doha peace agreement with the Taliban, and then we went back to the Afghan government and said, now, you'll live with this. You're going to release 5,000 prisoners and one, two, three, four, five -- well, it was pretty clear."
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