Former US President George Bush has been accused of lacking any “self awareness” after breaking his silence on Afghanistan and saying American troops had not died in vain after falling to the Taliban.
The former president said in a statement on Monday that American soldiers had shown “the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror”, which he started in the aftermath of the terror attacks of 11 September 2001.
Mr Bush said US forces “kept America safe from further terror attacks” during the 20-year war, after removing both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan.
The Republican was accused of showing no “self awareness” after Afghanistan’s government, backed by the US, collapsed on Sunday without US forces, who are withdrawing. The Taliban retook Kabul, the country’s capital, forcing Americans others to flee.
On Twitter, dozens reacted to the chaotic scenes in Kabul and said the Bush administration was to blame for the US invading Afghanistan in the first place.
“And here I was foolishly hoping for even a half-hearted apology from Bush for embarking on a nation-building experiment that led to a costly and unwinnable quagmire”, tweeted a critic, who added: “Silly me. No contrition or self-awareness at all.”
“Let's never forget that what we are watching happen right now in Afghanistan is the final act of George W Bush's 2004 reelection strategy,” tweeted another of the fall of the Kabul government.
Writer Mikel Jollett also alleged in a tweet: “Donald Trump ordered the unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, not Joe Biden. But if you’re really looking for someone to blame for the utter disaster, it’s Dick Cheney and George W Bush.”
Mr Bush added in his statement that he and his wife "have been watching the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan with deep sadness”.
“Our hearts are heavy for both the Afghan people who have suffered so much and for the Americans and NATO allies who have sacrificed so much.”
He also called for the US government, which has been accused of underestimating the return of the Taliban, to allow refuges into the US, and those Afghans “on the forefront of progress” who at risk of retaliation from the Taliban.
Tens of thousands of Afghans, and thousands of US soldiers, died during the 20-year war.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies