Dear President Biden:
Chaos engulfs Afghanistan and it is clear that your administration had no clear plan to respond to the collapse of the central government and the fall of Kabul. Your administration has publicly conceded that it is unable – and perhaps unwilling – to guarantee the safety of Americans attempting to make their way to the Kabul airport. Additionally, your administration’s inability to manage the deteriorating security situation means our country is poised to break faith with thousands of extremely vetted interpreters who served alongside our military in combat against the Taliban.
It is unconscionable to us that an American president would passively stand by while citizens and allies are detained, beaten, harassed and prevented from exiting a foreign nation.
It didn’t have to be this way.
President Donald Trump was right to initiate a conditions-based withdrawal from Afghanistan. After nearly 20 years of conflict, 2,448 American military lives lost, 3,846 American contractor lives lost, and more than $2 trillion spent on the Afghan government and military operations in and around Afghanistan, the United States had achieved its strategic goals. The perpetrators of the September 11th attacks were decimated, Osama Bin Laden was killed, and the Afghan people given the opportunity, resources and training to create a new government, a large military, and an established security system.
No doubt you will continue to blame intelligence estimates and military plans for this catastrophe. Certainly, there were failures in those areas. But ultimately this is a failure of leadership. A failure by you, as the commander in chief, to demand appropriate planning, to review those plans, and to hold your civilian and military subordinates, your aides and advisors, accountable for their actions.
As we near the end of the month and the deadline for completing the withdrawal, we hope that you and your administration demonstrate a level of competence not yet seen. First, you need to ensure that American citizens trapped in Afghanistan are guaranteed safe passage to the Kabul airport. Our allies in Britain and France have conducted multiple rescue operations over the past week, actively protecting their own citizens. The United States must follow their lead. There is absolutely no excuse for inaction.
Second, you need to ensure that highly vetted Special Immigrant Visa applicants and holders trapped in Kabul are welcomed into the airport perimeter and moved out of the country. These men and women went through multiple, regular security checks while serving alongside our military and put their lives on the line with them. Their loyalty to our country has been demonstrated under fire and we must pull them from the clutches of the Taliban.
Failure to achieve either of these goals will be an irrevocable stain on our national character.
Finally, we write to express how proud we are of the service and sacrifice of the thousands of Wisconsin residents who served in Afghanistan. Each of us represents families who lost a loved one, who endured gut-wrenching separations as a service member was in harm’s way, and who paid the price to secure our freedom. Their efforts were not in vain and we are forever grateful for their extraordinary service. Mr. President, do not let the last chapter written about our war in Afghanistan be an embarrassment to them.