The following is a special op-ed written by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker
By now the disturbing images from Afghanistan have been permanently seared into many American minds. Civilians clinging to the side of a military jet before takeoff. Helicopters leaving the U.S. Embassy for the last time. Taliban soldiers policing the streets in vehicles left behind by U.S. forces. These were the scenes of an ally nation thrown into chaos by President Biden’s unnecessary and clumsy withdrawal of U.S. troops. His ill-advised decision resulted in the country being overrun by the Taliban in mere days, leaving thousands of Americans and our friends stranded with few options for escape.
Intelligence leaders had warned the President that pulling out all U.S. troops could lead to this outcome. The President ignored those warnings. Even as disaster unfolded and criticism mounted from within his own party, the President doubled down on his decision, blaming everyone but himself. Evacuation efforts now fall on the shoulders of 7,000 U.S. troops who have been sent back to the Kabul airport.
Worst Foreign Policy Blunder in Modern Memory
The President’s abandonment of our Afghan allies is one of the worst foreign policy disasters in modern memory. The most clearly betrayed are the tens of thousands of Afghans who helped our country by serving as interpreters, drivers, and service employees. We asked these people to trust us and told them we had their backs. Many now face the prospect of being killed.
I fear that the ripple effects of this debacle will be felt in our foreign policy for years to come. U.S. allies may lose trust that America will keep its word, especially under this President. Leaders of neighboring countries in the region already seem to be hedging their bets and edging toward an accommodation with the Taliban. Our sudden retreat could provide an opening for both the Chinese and Russian dictatorships to gain influence at our expense.
It is now more likely that Afghanistan will once again become a breeding ground for terrorism. The Taliban provided safe harbor for terrorists leading up to 9/11, and there is clear evidence that al-Qaeda will try to revive their old base of operations – creating new threats to our national security.
Our military pullout will also doom millions of Afghan women and girls to repression. The Taliban have already begun forcing teenage girls into “arranged” marriages and sex slavery. They have told women working in local banks to quit their jobs and have begun turning away young Afghan women from the university. These changes will be especially traumatic for Afghans under age 20, who make up half of the population and have no memory of living under a backward Islamist regime.
No American Left Behind
As commander-in-chief, President Biden must do absolutely everything in his power to evacuate all American citizens and U.S. partners from the country. My office has worked on more than 100 evacuation requests this past week, and we will continue to process them as they arrive.
Any Mississippi resident who has loved ones stranded in Afghanistan can email my office with all applicable information at EVAC@wicker.senate.gov. We cannot guarantee any outcomes, but we will make sure the right information gets to the federal task force working around the clock to bring Americans home.