Congressman Bruce Westerman Statement on Afghanistan Withdrawal Anniversary

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Bruce’s Take

Friend,

This past Friday marks the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan. We watched this week as the Taliban took a victory lap in Kabul, celebrating its conquest and its implementation of Sharia Law. It did not have to be this way. Pentagon officials strongly advised against removing our military from Afghanistan this way, but President Biden refused to listen. Instead, he charged forward with no plan; resulting in the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers and hundreds of innocent Afghans, and in the loss of billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment that was left in enemy hands. The Taliban flag now flies over our abandoned U.S. embassy, where the American flag once proudly flew.

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The scenes of panic on August 15, 2021, are seared into our memory. Thousands of people swarmed the last American-controlled areas begging to escape. Desperate mothers passed, or threw, their babies over the barbed wire into Hamid Karzai International Airport. Those who had clung to the bottom and wings of C-17 jets in a final attempt to flee, fell to their deaths as the planes ascended.

Contrary to the Administration’s promise to remain until all U.S. citizens had evacuated, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted that approximately 100 Americans were left behind after the military’s final withdrawal. A recent investigation by House Republicans, however, revealed that 800 Americans were left in Afghanistan and later evacuated.

Perhaps even more tragically, hundreds of our Afghan allies, who we had sworn we would grant a Special Immigrant Visa in exchange for their service, were left to be imprisoned, tortured, or killed under Taliban rule. The Administration only evacuated 3% of those Afghans who had risked their lives to help us. A year later, hundreds of our Afghan allies are still waiting in hiding for a Special Immigrant Visa, afraid to go outside lest they be seen and killed. This is shameful.

Now, in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, women are detained and tortured in prison for breaking rules as simple as leaving home without a male escort. Little girls are barred from education after they turn 14-years-old, and 97% of the population lives below the poverty line as the economy collapsed and the country remains isolated. Food shortages, fuel shortages, joblessness, homelessness, and abject poverty are what the Taliban has brought to Afghanistan in the aftermath of our withdrawal.

President Biden’s failures must be fully investigated and those responsible for this tragedy must be held accountable. The Biden Administration owes the American people an explanation for its failures. We will never forget the events of August 15, 2021, and we will always honor the men and women who died in Afghanistan doing their duty. This time is extremely painful for many of the veterans and their families who served in Afghanistan. If you or someone you know is struggling, please call or text the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 9-8-8 for free help from a trained counselor.

Until next week,

Bruce Westerman
Arkansas’ Fourth District

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