AUGUST 20, 2021
If you want to know why the U.S. retreat in Afghanistan has been such an abysmal disaster, consider that the occupation has been overseen by people such as former CIA operative and current CNN contributor Philip Mudd.
Mudd, who helped “piece together a new government for Afghanistan” after the Sept. 11 attacks, said this week that if he were in charge of the State Department, he wouldn’t make every effort to rescue the thousands of U.S. citizens currently stranded in the country.
This is a thing he actually said, a former CIA operative and one of the people involved directly in creating the Afghan government that fell within the span of a week.
Truly, our best and brightest are fighting our most difficult battles.
Mudd’s remarks came this week amid a broader discussion with CNN host Chris Cuomo.
The former CIA operative said he is confident the situation on the ground in Afghanistan can be turned around quickly. The cable host didn’t share his optimism.
“You had the State Department today say to those people that were supposed to get out first,” said Cuomo, “the citizens, I’m not sure we can get you, I’m not sure we can get you to where we can then get you then out of there. So where is your confidence coming from?”
Mudd responded, “I wouldn’t get them if I were the State Department. But a couple things that I would look at, first is relative security. That is, there appears to be some sort of conversation to deal with the Taliban that means that thousands of people can get out today.”
There are currently anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 U.S. nationals trapped in Afghanistan right now, according to former Assistant Secretary of State Robert Charles, who served under former President George W. Bush.
Even Cuomo was taken off guard by Mudd’s remarks about declining to “get” U.S. nationals in Afghanistan.
“Did I just hear you right?” asked Cuomo. “Did you say that if you were the State Department, you wouldn’t make preparations and plans to get Americans that right now can’t get to the airbase?
Said Mudd, “I wouldn’t offer them safe travel. Look, the comment I heard from the U.S. government is, you have safe travel … to the airport. The other comment was we can’t assure that. What that means to me is, the U.S. government has some kind of conversation with the Taliban that says please let people who want to go to the airport go.”
He added, “We don’t want 5,000 Ubers a day from the airport in Afghanistan going to pick up people who identify with the U.S. and then risking firefights with Taliban along the way. One wrong shot, the Taliban start shooting, the U.S. military shoots back, remember Blackhawk Down, Somalia, U.S. military forces are dragged through downtown Kabul.”
Mudd continued, saying everyone just needs to slow down.
“Eventually, I think people might be able to make their way to the airport, but I would not want thousands of caravans of U.S. military traveling through Kabul right now risking a firefight with the Taliban,” he said. “That’s a disaster, Chris.”
To Cuomo’s credit, he pushed his guest to defend the idea that the federal government shouldn’t move earth and heaven to rescue all trapped U.S. citizens.
“How could it be acceptable to you or anyone else if Americans are left behind?” asked the host.
“It’s not acceptable,” Mudd said, characterizing himself as a “realist.”
“My question is, can we sit back and say without saying the first 72 hours were a complete disaster?” the guest said. “They were a problem, they weren’t a complete disaster.”
A simple question: If the U.S. retreat right now doesn’t qualify as an unmitigated “disaster,” then what does?
“When I look at the media today, it appears to me the American people are saying we already failed,” Mudd said. “Chris, we haven’t failed until Americans aren’t out and our friends aren’t out and that chapter is not close to closed.”
These are the people who oversaw the 20-year U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, where the Taliban have taken control and thousands of U.S. nationals and Afghan allies are fleeing for their lives.
If you want to know why it has all gone so wrong, perhaps this CNN interview offers some relevant insight.