The images we have seen out of Afghanistan in recent weeks are heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers are with our fallen heroes, Afghan allies, and troops who have worked tirelessly to bring Americans home.
The situation in Afghanistan is a senseless national security and humanitarian disaster. President Biden’s careless withdrawal was horribly executed with zero strategic planning – and sadly defined by the death of 13 of our soldiers and Americans stranded behind enemy lines.
While we mourn the lives lost and must prioritize rescuing every remaining American from harm’s way, Congress must also act to hold the Biden Administration accountable for such a haphazard exit. Withdrawing our troops before every American was brought home was a dereliction of duty. President Biden operated on the Taliban’s timeline, a scenario the world’s greatest superpower should never face.
As Republican Leader of the House Oversight Committee, I’ve called for congressional hearings to gather testimony from senior Biden Administration officials regarding how they got this so wrong. In addition to the loss of American life, we have also seen $83 billion in American security assistance and significant military equipment fall into Taliban hands. We must have a full accounting for why President Biden did not make plans to secure or destroy taxpayer-funded equipment before it was seized by our enemy.
But in addition to seeking accountability, lawmakers must also reflect on how we got here and what American foreign policy should look like moving forward.
I have long supported withdrawing the remaining American troops from Afghanistan. We entered this volatile country 20 years ago to kill the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks, an appropriate response to bringing to justice those who murdered nearly 3,000 Americans.
However, America’s subsequent nation building has done little but prop up a failed state that proved unable to defend itself, even after years of U.S. military training and financial assistance. This sad reality became clear when Afghanistan’s security forces quickly fled Kabul as the Taliban rolled into town.
The choice between an endless war and responsible withdraw was clear: the American people should not be forced to finance more bloodshed in the interest of creating a Democracy in a country that country that cannot sustain it. A timely withdraw that safely removed American citizens, troops and allies would have been appropriate.
While a withdrawal was necessary, President Biden’s lack of a planned withdraw created madness. There was no strategy behind this debacle, no timely evacuation, and we nonsensically closed military bases and sent military assets home before our citizens could get out. As a result, chaos ensued and Americans were left behind.
Throughout this crisis, the Biden Administration should have abandoned their August 31 deadline for troop withdrawal, and instead made clear that our withdrawal would occur when all Americans had left the country. Failing to do so dealt a severe blow to American credibility on the global stage.
In the wake of the disastrous withdrawal, terror threats rose and American soldiers and civilians were made less safe. This clear threat culminated in the suicide bombing at the Kabul Airport, killing American service members and countless Afghan civilians.
Moving forward, we will hopefully see a Taliban regime that preserves some of the newfound freedoms discovered by the Afghan people in recent years. However, it is not the job of American taxpayers and soldiers to permanently provide for the security of foreign nations – no matter how just the cause.
Speaking for the 1st Congressional District, our hearts break for the brave soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while rescuing Americans from Afghanistan. And to the veterans of this 20-year war: your sacrifice mattered, and will not be forgotten.
Rep. James Comer is a United States Congressman for the 1st Congressional District, which spans from South Central Kentucky to the river counties of far Western Kentucky. Contact him with any questions or concerns in his Washington D.C. office at (202) 225-3115, in the Tompkinsville Office at (270) 487-9509, in the Paducah Office at (270) 408-1865, or schedule an appointment in the Madisonville Office by calling (270) 487-9509.