08.31.21

Comment On The End Of U.S. Military Operations In Afghanistan

Twenty years ago, the United States embarked on a military campaign to bring Osama bin Laden and those who carried out the September 11th terrorist attacks to justice.  That mission was achieved a decade ago, yet we stayed in Afghanistan another decade in pursuit of the unrealistic and unachievable goal of turning Afghanistan into a unified, democratic society.  It cost the lives of thousands of Americans and coalition supporters, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans, many, civilians.  It was long overdue for that costly, misconceived adventure to end, and President Biden’s decision to withdraw our remaining troops was the right one.

We welcome home the brave American soldiers, diplomats, and aid workers who were on the front lines of the war, and we grieve the loss of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  That so many gave so much, to try to build a future of freedom and opportunity for people half way around the world, is extraordinary.

Our hearts are heavy.  While we and our allies are ending the final chapter of our nation’s longest war, we also think of the millions of Afghans who had hoped for a better future and are now once again facing the extreme repression of an emboldened Taliban. 

Left behind are women and girls unsure if they will ever have the right to education, or the chance to become leaders of their communities.  Scholars, judges, journalists, and activists, many of them part of the next generation who embraced the hope and ideals of democracy, and are now at grave risk.  A generation of children, or more, will now be raised under a violent regime that demands adherence to an extremist, unforgiving ideology.

Our men and women in uniform, thousands of American civilians, and countless Afghans tried for years to prevent this outcome, but in the end the Afghans themselves were unable or unwilling to fight for a government that had done next to nothing for them. 

The last U.S. military plane has left.  But I will continue to do what I can to help those who were left behind, as well as those who will be resettling in communities around this country.  Vermonters have a long history of welcoming refugees seeking to rebuild their lives and to contribute to our communities, and I am confident we will show that same generosity to those fleeing Afghanistan today.    

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