Key Point: “True leadership is doing what’s right, even when it’s not politically expedient. Even when others have failed to act before you. And even when the alternative would be easier. By withdrawing from Afghanistan, President Biden made the hard choice, and he did what was right. I support his decision.”
The Register-Mail: Cheri Bustos: Biden did what others before him had failed to do
By Cheri Bustos
August 28, 2021
Twenty years. Two trillion dollars. And 2,461 service members killed.
These are the costs of the United States’ prolonged Global War on Terror.
The vote by Congress to go to war in Afghanistan was taken in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001.
After our nation was rocked by the tragedy of 9/11 we found ourselves hunting those who planned the fateful attack, and a 20-year war in Afghanistan was born. Ever since, the United States has worked to build democracy in the region, helping Afghanistan hold its first elections since 1992, investing in security training and regional stabilization efforts, and capturing and killing the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden.
During my time in Congress, I visited Afghanistan to see the situation on the ground and visit with our service members. In 2014, I visited our troops over Mother’s Day weekend, an auspicious time to meet the daughters and mothers making daily sacrifices for peace.
But after that visit, I also wrote that, “No one wants our troops to stay in Afghanistan one moment longer than necessary.” And it’s time to acknowledge American troops have been there longer than necessary.
The truth is, there was no path out of Afghanistan that would be easy. No path that was without profound consequences. And while some in politics choose to capitalize on the withdrawal to score cheap political points — calling the endeavor a “failure” and questioning President Biden’s ability to lead — I will instead choose to acknowledge the complexity and nuance of a heartbreaking and impossible scenario.
I’m not running for re-election and have no political points to score, so let me be frank: The swift fall of the Afghan government was tragic, and the loss of life and desperation seen on the faces of those trying to leave the country will haunt us all for years to come. But the alternative — a perpetual risk to American life and limb — cannot be acceptable.
Remaining in a foreign country with no end date in sight, pouring trillions of American tax dollars into a war that no longer serves its original purpose. Asking our nation’s families to continue to send off their strongest and bravest. These are sacrifices our country can no longer bear.
I am deeply grateful to every man and woman who has served in Afghanistan. Their service and sacrifice can never be repaid. And let me be clear that we have an obligation to ensure human rights are respected in Afghanistan after we are gone, particularly for American allies, women and children.
True leadership is doing what’s right, even when it’s not politically expedient. Even when others have failed to act before you. And even when the alternative would be easier.
By withdrawing from Afghanistan, President Biden made the hard choice, and he did what was right. I support his decision.