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I spent time as an aid worker in Kabul. The U.S. mission and our clear moral leadership in Afghanistan partially inspired me to become a JAG Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve. I still have friends in Afghanistan.

What the Biden administration has allowed to happen in there—specifically in Kabul—is nothing short of a betrayal.

Let me be clear: I firmly believe our responsibility is to put America first. It’s one of the reasons I am currently running for Congress. Our troops only belong where we can justify a nexus to an American security interest. But we also have a moral obligation to end the war the right way and support the Afghan civilians who became our partners and allies over the last 20 years.

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Instead, we’re seeing shocking images of panic-stricken and confused Afghans fleeing their homes, crowding U.S. airfields, and even clinging onto airplanes after takeoff. America’s promises are literally vanishing before their eyes. These people are not just fighting for their freedom, they are fighting for their very lives.

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It didn’t have to be this way. President Joe Biden is certainly not responsible for the villainy of the Taliban. But he is absolutely responsible for his colossal failure to properly evacuate our friends. His State Department has completely botched the visa application process, stranding thousands of Afghans who were reassured for years that they would have a way out. 

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His withdrawal “plan,” if we can even call it that, failed to provide basic security for the Capitol, our embassy, or our airfields. It hindered our ability to get thousands of Americans and people who supported us safely out of the country in the final days of the war. We have needlessly left military equipment behind, arming Taliban terrorists with U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons, planes, and vehicles that they will soon use on their own innocent people.

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It’s important to be clear about what is about to happen: the Taliban is going to summarily execute anyone who worked with the U.S. or Afghan government—and not just those directly involved with the war. School teachers, aid workers, diplomats, lawmakers, and businessmen associated with the West will all face certain death if they remain in the country. The fate of Afghanistan’s women, whose lives have improved greatly over the past two decades, will be even worse.

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This is personal to me. During my time as an aid worker in Kabul, I got to know the Afghan people and their relentless spirit. I also became intimately familiar with their nightmares of what would happen if the government collapsed and the Taliban was free to once again terrorize the Afghan people. Those nightmares are now becoming reality, and we’re abandoning them at their time of need.

I recently spoke with a friend from Afghanistan who is fortunately right now safe in the United States. The news was grim. One of her family members was targeted by a Taliban car bomb. One of her friends, a 21-year-old female, was murdered by the Taliban on the side of the road for the great “sin” of traveling without a male escort.

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A 16-year-old Afghan girl in Kabul who I know from my time there recently called me in tears. She said the Taliban canvased her neighborhood and put fliers on doors with a clear warning to women: “We are watching.”

These stories are tragically not unique. This is quickly becoming every Afghan family’s reality.  The Taliban puts young people—especially young women—at the top of their target list because they are the demographic most willing to put up a fight for their freedom.

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We cannot protect the people of Afghanistan in perpetuity. But what we start, we must finish well. If we compromise our moral duty to our allies in this process, we are withdrawing without dignity and honor. 

America has a patchwork of dark history in conflicts such as this. The withdrawal from Afghanistan was our opportunity to build a better one.

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