Trump Says Situation With Taliban Would Be 'More Successful' If He Were Still President

Former President Donald Trump said he "personally had discussions with top Taliban leaders whereby they understood what they are doing now would not have been acceptable," in a statement issued through the Save America PAC.

Since the United States pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban has taken over much of the country's rural and lands, and over the past six days, the insurgent group has conquered nine provincial capitals, primarily in the north. The group now controls an estimated 65 percent of the country's territory and 10 of its 34 provincial capitals.

President Joe Biden announced in mid-April that he intended to have U.S. troops out of the country by September 11. At the time of that decision, a number of polls showed Americans, disillusioned by so-called "forever wars," were in favor of the move. However, since the subsequent Taliban takeovers, a number of Republicans have criticized Biden's approach, including the former president.

Former President Donald Trump said the situation in Afghanistan would be different if he were still president. Above, he speaks to troops during a surprise Thanksgiving visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan. Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

"It would have been a much different and much more successful withdrawal, and the Taliban understood that better than anyone," Trump said in his statement. "What is going on now is not acceptable. It should have been done much better."

Despite Trump's current stance, the issue of pulling out of Afghanistan stood as one of the few issues where GOP lawmakers were willing to critique the former president. Toward the end of his term, Trump announced his intentions to be out of the country by May 1, 2021. GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Trump ally, called the move "very bad" and "ill-conceived."

The thought behind proponents of staying in the country has centered around the perceived loss of "what we were seeking to achieve," said Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, more progressive lawmakers view the sustained effort as unnecessary and potentially detrimental to the long-term security of the country.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did not share that view.

"Precipitously withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake. It is a retreat in the face of an enemy," McConnell said on the Senate floor in April. "Foreign terrorists will not leave the United States alone simply because our politicians have grown tired of taking the fight to them."

Displaced Afghans Flee To Kabul As Taliban
Former President Donald Trump said in a statement about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan if he were still president: "It would have been a much different and much more successful withdrawal, and the Taliban understood that better than anyone." Above, displaced Afghans reach out for aid from a local Muslim organization at a makeshift IDP camp on August 10, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images

The war started in October of 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, lasting nearly 20 years. According to the Defense Department, 2,442 troops have been killed during the war, along with an estimated 47,245 Afghan civilians, according to Brown University's Watson Institute. Brown estimates the war has cost the U.S. over $2.2 trillion.

As the Taliban moves forward in its campaign, it said the people of Afghanistan should be left to make future decisions about the country, free from foreign influence.

"Neither the United States nor any other country has the right to bomb our country, kill our people, destroy our public facilities, destroy our villages and homes," the organization wrote in a statement.

"The fate of the Afghan people will be decided by the Afghans themselves. We appreciate the role of the international community in this regard. And we listen to everyone's advice and opinions. Of course, we do not allow foreign interference, and no one should interfere in our affairs."