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    Op-Ed
    Monday, July 22, 2024

    The Afghanistan failure and its enablers like Joe Courtney

    Two weeks ago, the grave reality in Afghanistan became clear to people across the globe. The shock and dismay our nation felt watching a promising, yet fragile democracy fall into the hands of terrorist thugs and war criminals seemed so sudden and unexpected.

    President Biden and dutiful House Democrats like Rep. Joe Courtney created that shock by repeatedly assuring our nation that the investment in Afghanistan’s democracy, humanity and future safety was secure and that never again would Afghanistan fall into the hands of the Taliban or would terrorists find refuge and support there to carry out despicable acts of terror, like we saw on September 11, 2001.

    The statements made by Biden, Courtney and a host of other Democrat enablers in the House perpetuated this false narrative not only for political gain but worse, still, with the full knowledge that their statements were false and dangerously misleading.

    Today, the president, Courtney and a dwindling number of Democrats are rallying behind their newly issued talking points that Afghanistan’s military unexpectedly folded without a fight, allowing the Taliban to take back control of the country. This position, as before, is not only false, it’s made with a malicious, calculating disregard for the truth.

    The truth is that our Afghan allies suffered thousands of casualties over the past several years fighting the ground war while depending on American airpower and intelligence support. But Biden’s inexcusable decision to abandon Bagram Air Base in the middle of the night with no warning to the Afghan base commander sent a clear signal to all parties that we were no longer in the fight. As a consequence, what should have been a systematic military retrograde operation became an American rout and retreat of unprecedented proportions.

    As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Courtney was aware that from the moment that the timing of troop departure was announced by Biden, the Taliban steadily gained ground enroute to Kabul, taking city after city and threatening to execute anyone standing in their way. Courtney, the state’s Second District congressman, was also in possession of threat assessments from our country’s top intelligence agencies that made it abundantly clear that a hasty departure was doomed to fail.

    In the face of these dire warnings from intelligence agencies and while watching the Taliban storm across Afghanistan, Courtney was joined by the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other progressive members of the House in praising the Biden policy, issuing effusive statements of support from their DC press offices.

    Today, what we hear from Courtney are hopes and prayers. We hear he “helped pass” legislation to expedite Special Immigrant Visas for people trying to leave Afghanistan, as though a visa is somehow helpful to someone standing outside Kabul airport in the path of a suicide bomber, as though a visa is useful to the foreign interpreter hunkered down as the Taliban and ISIS go door-to-door looking for the people that helped our brave service members over the past 20 years – a list that our president saw fit to give to them. Defensively pointing to an expedited visa policy is like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.

    While honoring our service members lost in the fight for freedom is something we all should uphold, invoking their memories in a feeble attempt to shirk responsibility is something I will not tolerate. The time to prioritize their lives and sacrifice was over the last four months as Courtney, Biden and Democrats watched the Taliban race across Afghanistan uninhibited. To ignore these threats and to now invoke their memories is disgraceful.

    After almost 18 months without an American casualty in Afghanistan, Americans are dying once again — — but this time it is not to secure a safer world for our children. This time, their deaths are a part of a feckless retreat growing worse by the day.

    It is time to dispense with evasive talking points from politicians in Washington. It is long past time to own up to the mistakes, reverse course and remind our troops and our allies that we do not leave people behind.

    To our allies, this is not the America you have come to know over many decades of fighting tyranny around the world, but it can be again. We will hold the very worst of our politicians accountable for this in 2022 and again in 2024.

    We have the ability to cripple global terror. We will now strive to regain the will to do so.

    State Rep. Mike France serves the towns of Ledyard and Preston and is a Republican candidate for the Second District congressional seat now held by Democrat Joe Courtney.

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