Mike Pompeo Says 'I Pray' Lindsey Graham Is Wrong About U.S. Return to Afghanistan

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he hopes GOP Senator Lindsey Graham is mistaken about the need for the U.S. military to return to Afghanistan.

Pompeo was asked about the South Carolina senator's comments to the BBC this week that the U.S. would have to return to the country that the Taliban has taken over because it would be a haven for terror.

"I pray that Lindsey's wrong," Pompeo told iHeartRadio with Lisa Boothe. "Senator Graham and I had worked together on this project, but we had different views.

"He had more confidence in the Ghani government than I ever could muster," Pompeo said, referring to president Ashraf Ghani, who fled Afghanistan as the Taliban captured Kabul.

Ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pictured in Washington, DC, on April 21, 2021. He said President Joe Biden has to "own" the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In the interview, released Wednesday, Pompeo described Ghani as "one of my most corrupt partners," who was more interested in "working the power corridors of Washington DC" than "the political operations in Kabul and surrounding provinces."

Pompeo was criticized by one of President Donald Trump's former national security advisers, H.R. McMaster, for what he termed a "surrender agreement" in February 2020 with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan.

Some former senior Trump officials have tried to distance themselves from the Taliban deal, which McMaster said laid the groundwork for the group's rapid takeover of Afghanistan.

Biden has faced criticism from all sides over the exit, during which a suicide bombing outside Hamid Karzai International Airport killed 13 U.S. service members and over 160 Afghans.

Biden defended the Afghan exit and blamed the former administration for the chaos, saying Trump emboldened the Taliban.

Despite his criticism of Biden's handling of the withdrawal, Pompeo said he supported the exit and backed the work made by the administration he served, saying: "I think we actually had it right," and that Biden has "to own" the disastrous consequences of the withdrawal from the country.

Pompeo said that the gradual drawdown of troops "put the right conditions in place" to ensure that if "we ultimately were able to successfully get out, which I think we could have, we would have gotten every American out."

"There's only one commander in chief," he said. "In the end, the singular person who's to be held accountable for this is President Biden."

"He made the decision to pick this arbitrary political date to have everybody out," Pompeo said, referring to August 31, adding that "the ramifications of that decision are absolutely tragic."

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

The graphic below provided by Statista shows how the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated over the last decade.

Newsweek/Statista graph shows Afghanistan's deterioration
A Newsweek/Statista graph shows Afghanistan's increasing number of terror attacks and the population's decreasing feeling of safety Newsweek/Statista/Getty Images