Skip to main content

John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow Mark Esper Discusses Afghanistan with Christiane Amanpour

On Tuesday August 17, former US Defense Secretary and John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow Mark Esper joined CNN International’s Amanpour to discuss the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Watch clips of his interview with CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour below or check out a longer portion of the interview here, courtesy of CNN.

What Next Steps Should Happen Immediately
“At this point, we have to remedy the situation. We have to make sure the airfield is secure, which I understand it is, but now we have to think about how do we go out and identify, locate and help bring back the 15,000 Americans who are in country, the State Department and other U.S. government employees. We have to think about how do we bring back our Afghan partners, many who risked their lives during the past two decades to help the United States and its allies… We need to take care of them. And then we need to think about how do we organize an international effort to really put the pressure on the Taliban to mitigate this emerging humanitarian crisis. And finally, I would be remised if I didn’t say, we really need to cobble back together our best intelligence assets and resources to make sure we know what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan so it doesn’t once again become a safe haven for terrorists to attack America.”

On the Unfolding Humanitarian Crisis
“Better planning, extending the timeline, taking a more thoughtful approach and not relying on simple assumptions would have prevented this disastrous outcome that is unfolding before us right now. It’s a humanitarian crisis that I fear is only going to grow worse in the coming days and weeks.”

Comments on the Ghani Government’s Leadership
“The Afghan people never had good leadership, certainly at the top, at the political level. If you don’t have good leadership, you see the will, the moral slip away. Why would you expect the Afghan army to fight the way we would expect them to do when their leadership deserts them?”

Thanking our Soldiers, Diplomats and Allies
“We have to give great thanks to our American service members, our diplomats and others in the United State government, and our allies who for 20 years protected our country. They brought Bin Laden to justice and made sure terrorists did not have a safe haven in that country.”


Publish Date
August 18, 2021