George W. Bush Thinks 'Consequences' of U.S. Leaving Afghanistan Will Be 'Unbelievably Bad'

Former President George W. Bush said he thinks the "consequences" of the U.S. entirely leaving Afghanistan will be "unbelievably bad."

Bush gave his thoughts on the pullout of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, announced by President Joe Biden earlier this year, in an interview with international German broadcaster Deutsche Welle released Wednesday. NATO forces are also phasing out their departure from the country. Under Bush's presidency, the U.S. was involved in the war in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S.

"It's unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban, and all of a sudden—sadly—I'm afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm," said Bush.

Afghanistan is seeing a Taliban surge as the group overruns districts throughout the nation, the Associated Press reported.

"I'm sad," Bush said. "Laura (Bush) and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they're scared. And I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only U.S. troops but NATO troops, and it seems like they're just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush
Former U.S. President George W. Bush said he thinks the "consequences" of the U.S. leaving Afghanistan will be "unbelievably bad." In this photo, Bush speaks during the flag-raising ceremony prior to The Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club on May 07, 2021 in Juno Beach, Florida. Cliff Hawkins

Asked in an interview with DW whether the withdrawal is a mistake, Bush replied, "You know, I think it is, yeah, because I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad."

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., Washington gave Taliban leader Mullah Omar an ultimatum: hand over al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and dismantle militant training camps or prepare to be attacked. Omar refused, and a U.S.-led coalition launched an invasion in October.

The withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops set in motion is now nearing completion.

In the DW interview, which marked outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's final official visit to the U.S., Bush said Merkel had supported the deployment in Afghanistan in part "because she saw the progress that could be made for young girls and women in Afghanistan."

During the Taliban's rule in the late 1990s, women were largely confined to their homes, and girls had no access to education. Despite protestations from the U.S. and Europe, the Taliban enforced its extreme version of Islamic Shariah law. However, there was no mass violence against girls and women.

George W. Bush in Afghanistan
In this March 1, 2006 file photo, U.S. President George W. Bush, left and Afghan President Hamid Karzai get ready to cut a ribbon to officially open the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Charles Dharapak/AP Photo