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McCollum Statement on Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

August 15, 2021
Press Release

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) released the following statement today after the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, Afghanistan:

“With the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, we are witnessing a human disaster for the Afghan people and the culmination of a two-decade bipartisan political and strategic failure of American leadership.

“Since 2001, successive American presidents, with the support of Republicans and Democrats in Congress, asked the Afghan people to trust America and work with America to build a new Afghanistan. Millions of Afghans believed us and committed their futures to this partnership. Their trust in America will now cost many of them their lives and certainly their freedom. Afghans who courageously stood with America to reject extremism and build a new Afghanistan are now alone, vulnerable, and will be subject to the Taliban’s vengeful retribution. This is their worst nightmare come true. For an entire generation of Afghan women and girls who embraced access to education and human rights, they will almost certainly be cast back into the darkness of the Taliban’s state-sponsored misogyny. 

“After the September 11, 2001 attack on the U.S., President George W. Bush and Congress decided to take military action against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. A decision was also made to invest in supporting the Afghan people and build a new, modern nation. That difficult worked continued for nearly 20 years with successes and failures along the way. In 2019, the Trump administration invited the Taliban to the negotiating table, without the Afghan government represented, and believed they could reach an agreement the Taliban would honor. This set in motion the return of the Taliban. The Biden administration’s decision to fully withdraw U.S. forces eliminated the final deterrent to the Taliban in light of their misplaced confidence in the capabilities of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

“For the hundreds of thousands of American service members, diplomats, and civilians who bravely served in Afghanistan, the pain of this outcome will be raw. The selfless service and the sacrifices made by these American heroes must be honored and respected. The American people owe them all a debt of gratitude for answering the call to service and doing a difficult job when asked.

“Politicians and pundits will now start the blame game, but this dreadful outcome is not the fault of any one politician, leader, or administration. This is a whole of government failure in both Washington and Kabul. The Afghan people who trusted us will now be living with the consequences. Rather than blame, the Biden administration, Congress, and future American leaders – Democrats and Republicans – need to learn some very hard lessons and make sure such a devastating foreign policy failure never happens again.

“My thoughts are with all our fellow Americans who are desperately leaving Kabul and the Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen protecting them. My prayers are with the people of Afghanistan who are now alone under a Taliban regime. May God protect them.”