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The Biden administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal has been a parade of gut-punching failure after gut-punching failure. I was blown up after my vehicle was struck by an IED and nearly died there. As a veteran of the war and as an American, I have questions. We all deserve answers.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony to Congress this week is the first opportunity for the American people to hold the Biden Administration accountable under oath for its failures that left Americans and our allies behind in Afghanistan and tragically cost the lives of 13 servicemembers.
Here are five questions Secretary Blinken needs to answer.
1. Why didn’t Secretary Blinken speak up about President Biden’s arbitrary and rushed deadline for withdrawing all U.S. troops?
When President Joe Biden decided to withdraw all remaining U.S. forces from Kabul, Secretary Blinken must have known we still had thousands of Foreign Service Officers on the ground, staff in our embassy, and allied Afghan partners who would soon be at the mercy of the Taliban if the government fell.
He also must have known the latter was a real possibility; he was told by his own diplomats on the ground that the Afghan government would quickly collapse once American forces withdrew.
Why did Blinken seemingly ignore this intelligence? Why didn’t Blinken forcefully speak up to protect the interests of the State Department, and most importantly, American lives? Why didn’t he warn U.S. personnel on the ground that they were in imminent danger and develop his own emergency evacuation plans for State Department staff and other Americans?
2. What are you and the State Department doing to fix the visa process for our Afghan allies?
Earlier this month, Secretary Blinken acknowledged “significant failures” in how the State Department processed Special Immigrant Visas for our Afghan partners who were promised a way out.
I, along with many veterans of Afghanistan, served alongside these brave Afghans who assisted U.S. forces as interpreters or as intel assets. Tens of thousands of them were left behind, mostly because the State Department failed to approve their visas or get them onto U.S. planes.
At the same time, it’s also clear that the State Department is not properly vetting Afghan refugees who are resettling in the United States, posing a potential danger to Americans here at home.
We need specific, detailed answers: What is the State Department doing to speed up the SIV process and ensure every refugee is fully vetted? What specifically is the Administration doing to help rescue the Afghan partners we needlessly left behind?
3. How did the State Department fail to evacuate every American from Afghanistan?
After the last U.S. troops withdrew, there were still thousands of Americans left stranded in Afghanistan, despite the Biden Administration’s promise that not a single American would be left behind. Many of them tried to make it to the airport but were turned away after President Biden placed Taliban thugs in charge of security in Kabul. Though many have gotten out since then, we still don’t know exactly how many remain.
Protecting Americans abroad is one of the core missions of the State Department. That Secretary Blinken allowed this to happen under his watch goes beyond incompetence—it is a betrayal of our government’s commitment to protect and defend American lives. How did the State Department’s evacuation plan fail to get every American out? How does the State Department still not know exactly how many Americans are stuck in Afghanistan? Why were charter planes filled with Americans held hostage at the airport?
The State Department’s failures put hundreds, or possibly thousands, of American lives in jeopardy. Blinken needs to provide a full recounting of every failed decision the State Department made in their plan to evacuate Americans—if there was even a plan at all.
4. Why is the U.S. government considering recognizing the Taliban?
The Taliban is an evil cult that brutally murders its own people for sport. Thousands of American servicemembers died fighting the Taliban. Many more—myself included—were seriously wounded. Unsurprisingly, the Taliban has already violated the terms of the negotiated peace deal. Not only did the Biden Administration move forward with the withdrawal anyway, but the State Department is now openly considering officially recognizing the Taliban as the ruling regime of Afghanistan while expressing “concern” that there are no women in its government.
This makes America look weak on the world stage. Secretary Blinken needs to fully explain how recognizing the Taliban and appeasing its regime while expressing weak “concern” about their behavior is in the interests of the United States and our allies.
5. What is the State Department’s plan to stop China from taking advantage of this foreign policy failure?
It seems that the State Department took almost no consideration into the impact the Administration’s withdrawal plan would have on Communist government in China, which is now free to leverage the strategic “Belt and Road” location and natural resources of Afghanistan to its own national interest. Our abandonment of Americans and our allies in Afghanistan has already created propaganda for the People’s Republic of China to sow doubt about the legitimacy of our alliance with Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party has already held high-level meetings with the Taliban, which it hopes to turn into a strategic partner to advance their interests. Does the State Department have any plan to ensure their disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan does not become an enormous gift to the Chinese Communist Party?
These are just five questions that Secretary Blinken needs to answer. There are many others, and as we are sadly witnessing, the Biden administration’s reckless incompetence generates additional questions every day.