WASHINGTON, DC - The United States has ratcheted up on the Taliban, complaining bitterly that it killed a U.S. soldier last week, and yet the State Department admits U.S. forces in turn have killed over 1,000 Taliban militants in the past ten days.
"I was out at Dover Air Force Base just a handful of hours ago with Sergeant First Class Barreto's wife, their two kids. He's a great American serving in the 82nd Airborne who was killed this past week, and it's a reminder that we've got to get it right. We've got to protect American national security interests so that terror can never strike again from Afghanistan, at the same time reduce America's treasure and blood and that we've given for now almost two decades," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week.
It was the death of a single soldier on Thursday that killed the peace talks that may have brought the near-two decades of hostilities to an end.
"We'd had a commitment from the Taliban that said that they would break with al-Qaida publicly and permanently. We had a commitment that said that they would reduce violence, that they would for the first time George, you know this. You were in an administration that tried to get Afghans to sit at the table together. We had a commitment that they would meet in Oslo to begin a reconciliation conversation. And then the Taliban overreached. They killed an American in an effort to gain leverage at the negotiating table, and President Trump said enough," Pompeo said during Sunday's program.
Stephanopoulos pointed out that the attacks have been going on for some time, and during the peace talks of the past 12 months or so. Pompeo agreed, and then extraordinarily revealed that U.S. forces had killed over 1,000 Taliban in the past few days.
"Yeah, it's true," he said. "There have been attacks during the talks, attacks from the Taliban on Americans and an enormous attack from American forces putting in real pressure on the Taliban. George, we have, in just the last 10 days alone, killed over a thousand Taliban. We have been fighting and talking in a way that America often doesn't do. It's what's driven us to be able to have the success at the negotiating table that we were beginning to have."
"But we finally reached a point where we were close," said the secretary. "We had made real progress, and then the Taliban failed to live up to a series of commitments that they had made. And when that happened, President Trump said I'm not going to take that deal, I'm not going to work with someone that can't deliver on their commitments. Because in the end, George, you know this, a deal, an agreement, is just a piece of paper, and we have to actually see that change in behavior."
"And when we saw this activity, when we saw this action, when we were closing in on a solution and closing in on opportunity for the president to actually meet with the decision makers that can actually deliver that reconciliation and peace to the Afghan people, President Trump said that's enough, we're not going to do that, we're not going to reward that behavior, and broke it off," Pompeo said.
The claim on This Week was not an oversight, the secretary of state repeated the claim while talking to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. "We killed over a thousand Taliban just in the last 10 days," he said.
The secretary also boasted that his boss President Trump was breaking off deals because of his personal view of things. "He walked away in Hanoi from the North Koreans when they wouldn't do a deal that made sense for America. He'll do that with the Iranians. When the Chinese moved away from the trade agreement that they had promised us they would make, he broke off those conversations too," he told Margaret Breenan on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday.
Mr Pompeo repeated the claim of 1,000 Taliban killed in the past 10 days on Brennan's program, and extraordinarily, the secretary went on to explain that the U.S. has been continuing attacks in Afghanistan to apply pressure on the Taliban to get leverage in the negotiations, the very thing the president deplored in his tweets on Saturday. Pompeo also said the U.S. would continue to carry out attacks.
"I think as you saw in his tweet last night, we've killed over a thousand Taliban in just the last 10 days. So it has not been the case that we've been negotiating with our hands tied behind our back," Mr Pompeo said Sunday on Face the Nation. "Unfortunately, applying military pressure to the Taliban is necessary to get the negotiated outcome that we're looking for, and we're going to, we're going to keep at that, and we'll always protect America."
There have been around 2,400 U.S. soldiers killed in the past 18 years in the war in Afghanistan