Donald Trump Under Fire After Offering Words Of Praise For Taliban

Donald Trump appears at an event.
Gettyimages | Michael M. Santiago
US Politics

Donald Trump is coming under fire after he offered some praise for the Taliban as the group swept back into power in Afghanistan.

Trump has been in the spotlight over the last several days as the militant group quickly seized power amid a pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It was Trump who set the troop withdrawal into motion during the final portion of his presidency and current President Joe Biden who followed through on the plans, but Trump has tried to pass off some of the blame for the controversial withdrawal.

Trump Praises Taliban

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Gettyimages | Paula Bronstein

As Bess Levin of Vanity Fair noted, Trump had plenty of kind words for the Taliban when he appeared on Fox News this week.

“The Taliban, good fighters, I will tell you, good fighters. You have to give them credit for that. They’ve been fighting for a thousand years. What they do is they fight,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “The Taliban has circled the airport, and who knows if they’re going to treat us right? All of a sudden, they’ll say—well, frankly, if they were smart, they’d really—and they are smart. They are smart. They should let the Americans out."

Under Fire

Donald Trump speaks a political event.
Gettyimages | Melissa Sue Gerrits

As Levin noted, Trump's praise for the Taliban was strangely reminiscent of the way he praised the strength of the novel coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic. Levin also noted that the former president tried to do a bit of historical whitewashing. In the interview with Hannity, Trump said he never had confidence in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country after the Taliban swept through and regained power. But she noted that Trump had previously praised him as "terrific."

Taliban Again In Control

Joe Biden appears at an event.
Gettyimages | Drew Angerer

With the Taliban again in control of Afghanistan, there has been plenty of finger-pointing about how much blame should be assigned both to Trump and Biden. Trump was quick to blame his predecessor, saying it was Biden's fault for mismanaging the pullout of U.S. troops.

“It’s a great thing that we’re getting out, but nobody has ever handled a withdrawal worse than Joe Biden,” Trump told Hannity, via Bloomberg News. “This is the greatest embarrassment, I believe, in the history of our country.”

Trump Misreads History

Donald Trump appears at an event.
Gettyimages | Brandon Bell

Others criticized Trump for some historical misstatements during his appearance with Hannity. In one portion, Trump claimed that the Taliban had been fighting for 1,000 years in Afghanistan, even though the group only formed in 1994. The Taliban had been out of power since shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2001, but many military experts believed they would eventually seize power again in Afghanistan after the U.S. troops left -- though not as quickly as they ended up taking back the country.