CNN hosts Jim Acosta and Fareed Zakaria offered pointed but light criticism of President Joe Biden and his administration over the rapid collapse of Afghanistan as U.S. forces withdrew over the past week, with Taliban fighters now in control of three-quarters of the country.
During a segment on the “Situation Room” program Friday evening, guest host Acosta took a surprising jab at Biden for the deterioration in Afghanistan, contending that the administration was not only unprepared but is now refusing to admit that the president “didn’t anticipate” the Taliban’s moves.
“Why do you think the Biden administration was caught by surprise in all of this? They won’t admit it, but they were,” asked Acosta, lacking all self-awareness as he and his liberal media cohorts have repeatedly and intentionally dropped the ball on holding Biden accountable, failing to push back on the administration over the rapidly unfolding situation.
“I think everyone was caught by surprise at the extent to which this has collapsed,” Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” replied.
He went on to note that as Taliban forces — thought to number between 65,000-75,000 based on various reports — have advanced, they have not suffered many casualties, indicating that Afghan National Army and internal security forces, which number around 300,000, have put up little resistance.
“The Afghan army is not actually fighting,” he said. “It is melting away. That is a 300,000 person army, trained for 20 years with, as you say, tens of billions of dollars of American money with an air force. And it just doesn’t fight. It melts away.”
Zakaria went on to say that, with the benefit of hindsight, a better strategy for long-term stability in Afghanistan would have been to incorporate Taliban fighters into the country’s armed forces because they are Pashtun, the largest ethnic group in the country.
He compared the situation to the Vietnam War when U.S.-backed South Vietnam’s forces were also poor fighters with little motivation compared to their USSR-backed Communist North Vietnamese opponents.
But Zakaria’s viewpoint belies the central purpose for why the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the first place: Because the Taliban harbored Osama bin Laden, who plotted and carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C.
As for strategy, U.S. and NATO forces fought mostly holding actions, bringing security to regions of the country for only as long as they occupied the ground following the initial invasion, in which American forces directly targeted Taliban military installations and government officials and facilities.
“It is maddening because we seem to have bought a military for the Afghan security forces and now that’s going to belong to the Taliban, it seems,” Acosta offered. “The U.S. Embassy in Kabul is instructing people to destroy sensitive materials. That seems to be an admission that they expect Kabul to fall.”
“I think you’d be crazy not to be planning for that,” said Zakaria. “You’re not hearing from the president of Afghanistan. You’re not hearing about counteroffensives. You’re not hearing about regrouping.”
Acosta returned to Biden as the segment wound down, saying, “He didn’t anticipate this happening.”
Zakaria responded by appearing to blame former President Donald Trump for creating a “slow-motion disaster” as he began withdrawing U.S. forces from the country last year, as he pledged to do, and entered negotiations with the Taliban for a phased withdrawal as they met certain conditions.
Former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, a private security firm, ripped the Biden administration for the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, arguing that what is occurring now with the Taliban is due to two decades’ worth of failed military policy.
In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Friday, Prince, who deployed often to the Middle East, blamed “half-baked politicians” for the disaster that is currently unfolding.
(Video: Fox News)
“It’s the same collection of national security elites in Washington that has failed for that entire 20 years. They took what was a brilliant victory by special operations and the CIA and the first six months after 9/11 and turned it into a massive failed nation-building exercise,” he said, going on to compare it to the fictional “Star Trek” franchise.
“It’s largely been like a ‘Star Trek’ cosplay convention where they just sit and talk to each other and delude themselves into thinking they are making progress – and it’s been the same nonsense, and they’ve refused to think about any other ways to solve this problem,” he told Carlson, blaming every administration from George W. Bush, who — with congressional backing — ordered the invasion of Afghanistan — to the present.
Prince railed at the decision through the years to attempt to recreate a Western-style democracy in a theocratic country while attempting to build a similar type of military.
“They’re the most expensive military in the world… and we have been beaten by weapons that were designed in the 1940s carried by largely illiterate goat-herders,” he said, adding: “If there is any shame in Washington, there should be a lot of people resigning and if not, they should be fired.”
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