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George W. Bush at the Seminole Golf Club in May. Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush sharply criticized President Biden's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, telling German broadcaster DW News Wednesday that he believes Afghan women and girls will suffer "unspeakable harm."

Why it matters: Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in order to topple the Taliban and deny al-Qaeda of a safe haven to launch terrorist attacks against the United States. Two decades later, Biden is ending America's longest war.

What they're saying: Reflecting on his relationship with retiring German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bush said he was "very pleased" that she supported the NATO mission in Afghanistan and claimed that Merkel "saw the progress that could be made for young women and girls."

  • "It's unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban. And now all of a sudden, sadly, I'm afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm," Bush said.
  • The 43rd president went on to say that he believes the U.S. withdrawal is a mistake and that "the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad."
  • "Laura and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women. And they're scared," Bush added. "And think of all the interpreters and people who helped not only U.S. troops, but NATO troops. It seems like they're just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. It breaks my heart."

The big picture: Biden last week directly addressed some of the criticisms echoed by Bush, and confirmed that the the administration will be evacuating Afghans who worked with the U.S. troops to third countries while their visa applications are processed.

  • Biden has set an Aug. 31 deadline to end U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, where districts controlled by the Afghan government have been rapidly falling to the Taliban over the past several months.
  • The president has denied that a Taliban takeover of Kabul is inevitable, but stressed that it's up to the Afghan people — not the U.S. — to decide their future. Biden has previously said that while he will continue to speak up for women's rights in Afghanistan, that is not why the U.S. military was sent there.
  • "Nearly 20 years of experience has shown us, and the current security situation confirms, that just one more year of fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution but a recipe for being there indefinitely," Biden said last week.

Go deeper: Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan steps down

Go deeper

43 mins ago - World

Biden: U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end this year

Biden returning to the White House on July 25. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.

How extreme weather feeds inflation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This summer's extreme weather is having ripple effects that could raise food prices in the U.S. and disrupt diets around the world.

Why it matters: Climate scientists and food supply experts, like those at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, have long warned about the impact of human-caused global warming on prices, food shortages and hunger.

EA Sports is in expansion mode

EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt (left). Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: EA Sports

The biggest player in sports video games has plans to get even bigger — on mobile, in football, maybe even with basketball again — EA Sports general manager Daryl Holt said in an exclusive interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Sports gaming doesn’t get much press, but it’s a surging market with increased competition and lots of players up for grabs.