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Tragic on a Human Level, Damaging on a Strategic Level: Stephen Yates on Afghanistan Withdrawal

In this special episode, we sat down with Stephen Yates, the former deputy national security adviser at the White House. He touches on Afghanistan, how the war started, the debates around how the withdrawal was conducted, and the geopolitical implications going forward.

Yates said, “It’s hard to go back 20 years and try to remind everyone about the feelings and circumstances, politics, geo-strategic relationships at the time. But we had just gone through a 2000 campaign, where President-Elect George W. Bush was talking about sort of reorienting great power politics, and that we’re going to get out of sort of the mini interventions that happened during the Clinton administration that resulted in the strike on the USS Cole, an accidental bombing of a milk powder plant, and some other kinds of issues that had come up, and focus more on rebalancing with Russia, taking a different approach to China. There was talk of a strategic competition moniker for the relationship.”

But as to how the withdrawal was conducted, Yates said, “While the withdrawal decision was understandable, the timing and sequence is unforgivable. It’s been censured by the UK Parliament, it’s been denounced by multiple allies. And of course, the most damning concern comes from people who have tried to flee Afghanistan and partial families have come out. And they, with tears in their eyes, say, ‘We believed you, we trusted you, we worked with you, and you betrayed us and abandoned us.’ That is a deathblow to American credibility and trying to work with others around the world in dangerous situations. I think it’s tragic on a human level, but it’s damaging on a strategic level too.”

Watch the full episode on Epoch TV.

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