Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House John Kirby got into it with Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday when he tried talking up the positives to the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
The battle built up from a question asked by Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt about a report the fallout of that withdrawal was a “gift” to China, with Kirby’s answer drawing a frustrated objection from Kilmeade.
Earhardt asked about a Department of Defense report revealing that the fumbled withdrawal presented a propaganda opportunity for other nations, including China. Earhardt asked Kirby if he believed the withdrawal was a “propaganda gift” handed to China.
“No I do not, and I don’t that’s the Pentagon’s assessment, that it was a propaganda gift to China,” Kirby said. “If anything, nations like China and Russia took a look at what we did in Afghanistan and we’ve talked about this many, many times over the last year, and had to marvel at the speed, the efficiency, the effectiveness —”
“Oh, please!” Kilmeade interjected with exasperation.
“Brian, you listen to me now. Hear me out,” Kirby said, going on to praise a small amount of troops being able to move a large number of people out of the country. Controversy stems from the fact that 13 service members were lost during the withdrawal, allies were left behind, and the fact that the Taliban retook control of the region.
“The way you withdrew is the issue, Admiral, the way our military moved in and out is a separate issue,” Kilmeade said.
The Fox host then circled back to the withdrawal being fodder for propaganda.
“The death of 13 and how many got out, that’s one issue. The way we did it, the way we promised that government we would stand up, the way we were going to leave and have a transition. The disaster that took place,” Kilmeade said as Kirby said his name multiple times, “is one of the many problems, along with the soldiers that are suffering … China is using it. And you could argue Russia invaded Ukraine because of it.”
The two continued their back and forth with Kilmeade continually asking Kirby to rate the military’s exit from the country and arguing thousands of terrorists are back and active in the country. Kirby did admit to “mistakes” in the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“We have admitted and acknowledged that not everything about the withdrawal was done perfectly, that there were certainly mistakes made,” he said. “We’ve investigated mistakes, we’ve owned up for those mistakes.”
As the two shot back and forth, Kilmeade appeared to taunt Kirby after the official refuted the claim that Al Qaeda feels “safe” in Afghanistan today.
“You’ve killed one. There are thousands back,” Kilmeade said, referring to the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Kirby argued the terrorist leader was not just “some guy on a street corner” and the strike on him is a testament to the U.S. “over-the-horizon counterterrorism” capabilities.
“If you had over-the-horizon capabilities, you would have killed more than one,” Kilmeade shot back.
Watch above via Fox News.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]