Hillary Clinton Says Afghan Troop Withdrawal Will Bolster Taliban, Terrorists Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on stage for the "Hillary" press conference during the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 25, 2020, in Berlin, Germany. (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 03 May 2021 08:01 AM
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the Taliban and global terrorists could become strengthened by President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Biden has vowed to pull out troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
"Well, [the decision has] been made, and I know it's a very difficult decision. This is what we call a 'wicked problem,'" Clinton said on CNN. "You know there are consequences both foreseen and unintended of staying and of leaving."
Clinton said "huge consequences" could include the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan, resulting in a "huge refugee outflow," and "a resumption of activities by global terrorist groups."
"The potential collapse of the Afghan government and a takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban probably with a resumption of civil war in certain parts of the country," she said. "But a largely, Taliban-run government at some point in the not-too-distant future."
Clinton said she hoped the Biden administration would take steps to aid Afghan refugees.
"How do we help and protect the many, many thousands of Afghans who worked with the United States and NATO, who worked with American and other NATO-connected contractors, who stood up and spoke out for women’s right and human rights?" she asked.
"I hope that the administration in concert with the Congress will have a very large visa program and will begin immediately to try to provide that channel for so many Afghans to utilize so that they are not left in danger."
Clinton also said Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and other terrorist groups will be emboldened to resume activities internationally.
"We’ve seen a really sharp drop in both capacity and action on behalf of Islamic terrorist groups," Clinton said. "I don’t think we can count on that staying in a downward spiral if the Taliban continued to provide refuge to international terrorist groups."
Clinton, who lost to former President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, said the U.S. must deal with the consequences of Biden’s decision to pull out troops from Afghanistan.
"It’s one thing to pull out troops that have been supporting security in Afghanistan, supporting the Afghan military, leaving it pretty much to fend for itself," she said, "but we can’t afford to walk away from the consequences of that decision."
About 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, according to the New York Post. Troops have been there since October 2001, following the 9/11 attacks the previous month.
Trump wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by May 1, but Biden said "tactical reasons" made that deadline hard to meet.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director, said the absence of American troops and NATO forces in Afghanistan is likely be felt in years to come.
"I fear that a couple of years from now we will look back and we are going to remember that whenever there are ungoverned spaces in the Muslim world, extremists fill them," Petraeus said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
Petraeus’ four-star assignments included serving as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and as the 10th commander of U.S. Central Command.
"The training of attackers was conducted in a sanctuary that Al Qaeda enjoyed when the Taliban ruled the country," Petraeus said. "We should expect that they will try to recreate such sanctuaries if the Taliban is able to extend their sway over more of Afghanistan."