Colin Powell Backed Biden's Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan Before Death: 'Had to Get Out'

In an interview a little more than three months before his death, Colin Powell expressed support for President Joe Biden's plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Speaking of the war, Powell told veteran journalist Bob Woodward he felt it was time to "get it over with" and added, "Afghanistan, you're never going to win. Afghans are going to win."

The comments, along with other thoughts shared during what is believed to be one of Powell's final interviews before his death on Monday, were published by Woodward in a story posted online Monday night by The Washington Post.

Colin Powell
Discussing the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Colin Powell said in July it was time to "get it over with." Above, Powell speaks during the National Memorial Day Concert at the U.S. Capitol on May 27, 2018. Getty

Woodward had specifically asked the retired four-star general and former secretary of state about his thoughts on Biden's decision to pull out all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

"I thought we had to get out of there eventually," Powell said, according to Woodward. "[We] can't beat these guys."

Top generals told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a late-September hearing that they had advised Biden earlier in the year to keep several thousand troops in Afghanistan. But Powell seemed to believe that plan would ultimately not succeed.

"They [Afghanistan] have hundreds willing to fight and die for this country of theirs. That's why I don't have any problem with us getting out of there," he said. "We can't go from 100,000 [U.S. troops] down to a few hundred and think that'll prevail."

Powell also discussed North Korea with Woodward, saying he didn't understand how anyone could think the country "would find a way to attack us without us destroying them the next morning."

He added, "How can anyone think equally of Iran? Iran and North Korea cannot be our enemies because they cannot stand the results of such a conflict. We're going to be terrified of these people? No. Would they dare?"

The former national security adviser also said he thought China would prevent a war with North Korea and referred to Kim Jong Un as a "little jerk." He said Russia similarly could not afford a war with the U.S., noting its population was less than half of America's.

As they discussed some of the prouder moments of his career, Woodward and Powell talked about the small number of American casualties in the Persian Gulf War. Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, having been appointed by President George H.W. Bush. The Iraq conflict lasted 42 days, with only four days dedicated to a ground war and 137 Americans reportedly killed in action, seven missing in action.

"I'm so proud of that I can't see straight," Powell said of the low casualty rate.