- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2020

President Trump’s former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the administration’s plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan is “unwise,” and suggested instead that the U.S. should maintain a force presence in the country.

In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” set to air this Sunday, the retired lieutenant general said that Mr. Trump’s ongoing negotiations with the Taliban and Afghan government have made the U.S. less safe.

“I think what [Mr. Trump] did with this new policy is he, in effect, is partnering with the Taliban against, in many ways, the Afghan government,” Mr. McMaster said.

His comments come over a week after Mr. Trump and administration officials said that a further drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is on the horizon.

“I think that it’s an unwise policy,” Mr. McMaster continued. “And I think what we require in Afghanistan is a sustained commitment to help the Afghan government.”

A February peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban opened the door to American troop withdrawal from the country and eventual intra-Afghan negotiations.

Mr. Trump said this summer that the U.S. is working on a deal that would reduce troop levels in Afghanistan from 8,500 to between 4,000 and 5,000 before Election Day.

Under the peace deal, the Taliban vowed to no longer harbor any outside terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and agreed to halt attacks on U.S. personnel.

But the former top White House national security adviser warned that such terrorist organizations “are stronger now than they were on September 10, 2001.”

“Today, we are facing an al Qaeda and an ISIS alumni that is orders of magnitude greater than that mujahideen-era alumni ever was,” McMaster said. “And they also have access to much more destructive capabilities.”

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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