Congressman Seth Moulton Shares His Thoughts On Afghanistan Withdrawal

Below is a statement from Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) issued earlier this week:

To say that today [August 15, 2021] is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable. The time to debate whether we stay in Afghanistan has passed, but there is still time to debate how we manage our retreat. For months, I have been calling on the Administration to evacuate our allies immediately—not to wait for paperwork, for shaky agreements with third countries, or for time to make it look more “orderly.”

While I am proud that a strong, bipartisan majority in Congress voted to expand the Special Immigrant Visa program in support of our Afghan friends, my worst fear has been realized: That ultimately this effort would distract from what is truly needed, an immediate evacuation. The fact that, at this hour, we have not even secured the civilian half of Kabul Airport is testament to our moral and operational failure. We need to rectify this immediately. America and our allies must drop the onerous visa requirements where a typo can condemn an ally to torture and death, and the military must continue the evacuation for as long as it takes. 

We should also not forget that the tragedy that unfolds before us today was set in motion by Secretary Pompeo and President Trump, who negotiated in secret with the Taliban terrorists last year in order to meet a campaign promise.

Today’s tragedy must also serve as a wakeup call to Congress, who holds ultimate, Constitutional responsibility for sending our best and brightest to war on the nation’s behalf. Successive leaders of both parties have failed to hold the votes for re-authorizing this conflict for the last two decades since we invaded to find Osama bin Laden. For that, all of us in Congress should be ashamed.

Finally, to our Afghanistan veterans and their families, I am too honest to stand here today and try to convince you that your sacrifice was worth it. Some will find solace in the millions of Afghans, especially women and girls, to whom we gave two decades of a taste of freedom—more hope, liberty, and opportunity than they would have ever had without the tireless work and irreparable sacrifices of our troops. We accomplished our initial mission: Osama bin Laden is dead and the threat of terrorist attacks against Americans originating from Afghanistan is diminished. We also provided the security needed to accomplish a peace process that, unfortunately, was never realized. 

Others will forever ask that haunting question I heard too often from my own Marines in Iraq: “Why are we here?” The best answer I could ever come up with was simply, “So nobody has to be here in our place,” and while that was never an adequate answer, it is true. And I remain proud to be from a nation whose brave young men and women stand on the ramparts of freedom around the globe, as they do at Kabul Airport tonight.

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