|August 19, 2022|
|For Immediate Release | Contact: Georgeanna Sullivan (202) 225-2956|
Blaine’s Bulletin: One Year Since Our Afghanistan Withdrawal
|This past Monday marked the one year anniversary of one of the biggest foreign policy failures in our nation’s history: our rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan. Regardless of politics, I think most Americans could agree we shouldn’t stay in Afghanistan forever. But the manner in which we withdrew was completely reckless and had devastating consequences. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, the United States Military spent 20 years – two decades – in Afghanistan. Removing our entire military presence from that country in a matter of days was outrageously irresponsible and resulted in the loss of American lives. And now, the Taliban controls the entire country with brutal force.
Many of us saw the photos of Afghan citizens who were so desperate to flee their country before the Taliban took control that they held onto the planes that were taking off. What was to come for their country was so daunting that babies were handed over fences to American troops in hopes that the child will be taken care of. And the progress and equality Afghan women had experienced for the last two decades was quickly erased by Taliban rule. Now, a reported 97% of Afghans are living below the poverty line, secondary education for girls is banned, and the entire country lives in fear of the corrupt, merciless leaders who are in power.
We left at least 600 American citizens, Afghan allies who fought alongside U.S. troops, interpreters who risked their lives to help our military, and U.S. embassy employees to fend for themselves in and around Kabul. Not to mention the $7 billion worth of American weapons, vehicles, aircrafts, and ammunition that were all left behind. Our hurried exit forced our military to leave the very warfighting equipment they had spent years using against the Taliban for the Taliban to use themselves. And all of this was avoidable had President Biden simply listened to the military experts who warned against this strategy.
On August 26, 2021, our fear became true. We lost 13 American servicemembers in the bombing at the Kabul airport during the catastrophic withdrawal. Those heroes, including Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz who called the Third District home, lost their lives defending our freedom on that fateful day. We will never be able to repay them or their families for their service. And it is heartbreaking to even think that such a tragedy could have been avoided had there been a better strategy in place. But that is the harsh reality.
Unfortunately, the immediate consequences weren’t the only ramifications of this situation. Our Afghanistan withdrawal made us look weak on the world stage, and we’ve since seen an emboldened Russia and China take full advantage. We are the most powerful country in the world, but such a messy foreign policy failure made the corrupt Russian and Chinese leaders think they could get away with more without being held accountable like they usually would. The Chinese government actually made a statement on the one-year withdrawal anniversary stating, “Afghans experience better security under Taliban rule…” Not only does that statement illustrate China’s horrific stance on human rights, it highlights the communist party’s disdain for democracy, specifically the United States. Because of the weakness of this Administration, they and Russia will continue to threaten free people around the world without any fear or repercussions.
On August 31st, 2021, five days after those 13 servicemembers were killed in the line of duty, President Biden was quoted saying the Afghanistan evacuation mission was a “historic success.” I truly believe well-meaning people can have different opinions – on almost anything. But calling the sacrifice of 13 American soldiers a success is absolutely reprehensible.
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