Despite having screened an interview to a Spanish radio station, Pope Francis nevertheless on Wednesday confused statements from German Chancellor Angela Merkel with those from Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Francis referred to Merkel, who is stepping down after 16 years in office this month, as one of the world's greatest political figures and subsequently criticized Western intervention in Afghanistan but (knowingly or not) appealing to Putin's statement that it is necessary to put an end to the irresponsible policy of intervening from outside and wanting to build democracy in other countries, ignoring the traditions of its peoples.
In effect, the quotes are from a 20 August conference on Afghanistan where US policy was particularly criticized, not only the intervention and war but also the sudden abandonment of the country.
During the conference, Merkel had argued that the twenty-year operation, in which German troops also participated as part of the NATO support effort, had been unsuccessful in creating a definitive future for Afghanistan, but defended the military intervention as having helped to achieve some changes.
The German chancellor added that the mission in Afghanistan had protected the rights of women, allowed girls to attend school, provided drinking water and electricity to many villages and rural areas and drastically cut child mortality.
Pope Francis was quoted saying that while the withdrawal of western military forces was necessary, how it had been instrumented was responsible for a major but avoidable humanitarian situation.
As far as I can see, not all eventualities were taken into account...I don't want to prejudge, I don't have all the information, and I ignore if there will be a review of events, but there has been also much deception on the part of the new authorities in Kabul. I say deceit or much naivety...it is hard to understand, remarked the Pope.
However, in probably one of her last addresses to the German parliament, Merkel followed on US president Biden's statements saying that one of the goals of the war has been to prevent terrorists from using Afghanistan as a base to plan attacks of the scale of 11 September, and this was achieved.