I’ve always thought of America as how President Ronald Reagan described her: “a shining city on a hill.” But, we all woke up on August 15th – another day that will live in infamy – to an America whose beacon of hope has dimmed due to an intelligence and operational failure in Afghanistan. It was a day of foolish chaos, a day of embarrassment, a day an ill-conceived plan went awry, and one that went from worse, to even more worse.
After the loss of over 2,000 American service members and thousands of others injured in action, I agreed it was past time to get our troops out of Afghanistan. American heroes did what they were sent to do: they decimated Al-Qaeda, they eliminated Osama bin Laden, and they kept America and our allies safe for 20 years from another 9/11-style attack. Each and every one of them made a difference. They must be saluted and thanked.
But, while I agree with the President on the mutual goal of getting our military personnel safely out of Afghanistan, I strongly disagree with his pullout plan and how his team attempted to execute it. Certainly, we could have successfully followed former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s conditions-based withdrawal, while maintaining a strong military posture until every American was out of harm’s way. This plan, negotiated from a position of strength, worked with and held the Taliban accountable and responsible for a peaceful transition. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration executed the exit from a position of weakness and in turn humiliated America, placed American lives in danger, and created national security challenges for decades to come.
Having travelled to the Middle East, I acknowledge this war on terrorism will never truly be over and therefore, America must continue to maintain significant counter-terrorism assets in the area. These resources must be a financial and operational priority for any Administration. However, there are safer places for American soldiers to accomplish our mission against terrorism.
Of course, we are in the middle of another crisis created by the Administration, and I join all Americans in praying for those left behind and the American heroes sent to rescue them. The priority right now must be to get Americans and our allies out of Afghanistan safely and to protect the human rights of woman and children.
As we begin the journey out of this massive national security failure, it’s time to move on from this nadir of American foreign policy that has left Americans embarrassed and our allies bewildered and wary of our commitment going forward. Suffice it to say, any vacuums formed will be filled by the new axis of our age – the totalitarian regimes of the world.
Americans need to look deep down inside our souls and see what’s in our hearts. This is a time to renew and revive our commitment to each other as Americans, and our commitments to like-minded allies. It’s time to restore order to the chaos. It’s time to redeem our self-worth and dignity. It’s time to reclaim our place in the world order with a rejuvenated foreign policy.
While this Administration tore down our reputation and is failing to rebuild America’s influence and presence, we must use this crisis to renew and regenerate our foreign policy – a foreign policy that keeps America shining like President Reagan believed and upholds America’s dominant role as the leader of the free world.