McMaster: 'It's time to reverse course' on Afghanistan withdrawal

Former Trump administration national security adviser H.R. McMaster tells Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff that, in light of deadly terrorist attacks in Kabul, "it's time to reverse course" and that, 'we have put ourselves and the world at a much higher degree of danger by giving a country to the Taliban."

Video transcript

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: We've just had a terrorist attack that has injured at least some American troops. We don't know the full casualty numbers yet. Does the United States need to respond to that terrorist attack? And if so, what does that response look like? Who do we attack? Where? How do we go after the people who did this?

HR MCMASTER: Well, we have a lot of means to go after them. The question is, though, will they be able to hold us hostage, right, hold those that are at the airport hostage, hold those who are trying to get to the airport hostage. So this is the cost. This is the cost of surrendering to a jihadist terrorist organization. This is the cost of the Trump administration's deal in February of 2020 to capitulate to the Taliban, to enter into negotiations without the participation of the Afghan government, then to insist that the Afghan government release 5,000 of some of the most heinous people on Earth, who went right back to terrorizing the Afghan people, went right back to the battlefield.

And now what you've seen are the results of the psychological blows we delivered to the Afghans by saying, hey, we're leaving. We don't have your back anymore. Good luck with that. And of course, what the Taliban did is they took the boost we gave them psychologically and went to those Afghan leaders and said, OK, we've got a deal for you. How about either you come to terms with us, or we kill your families? How about that? So that's why we've seen this rapid collapse. It was all predictable, I believe, based on the psychological blows we delivered. Now, having surrendered to a terrorist organization, we're seeing that you actually lose agency and influence, unless you reverse course.

I guess an earlier question would be, are we going to continue to empower the Taliban at the Afghan people's expense? We keep talking about, well, we need to engage the Taliban on the future of Afghanistan. Hey, it's worth pointing out that the Asia Society, who's been doing polls there for the last 20 years, had the highest level of support ever for the Taliban at 13%. How about engaging other Afghans on the future of the country? How about engaging Amrullah Saleh, who's in control of the Panjshir Valley now, and just retook four districts from the Taliban by Force

You know, I mean, I think it's time to reverse course, to recognize that we have put ourselves and the world at a much higher degree of danger by giving-- by giving a country to the Taliban and allowing them to reestablish the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan.