WASHINGTON, DC – The following is the statement of VoteVets senior advisor, retired Major General Paul D. Eaton, on the president’s speech regarding Afghanistan
“All Americans are rightfully concerned by the images we're seeing coming out of Afghanistan, and we're pleased that the President is speaking with the nation in a frank way about what's happening, and even more importantly, about how we got here. The American people deserve nothing less.
While it doesn’t comport with the decades of spin many of the foreign policy elite have pushed, there was no achievable military mission in Afghanistan, past decimating al Qaeda’s capabilities and bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. That it took the Taliban no time to sweep the country, and even less time for President Ghani to flee, is all the proof we needed that Afghanistan was no closer to a stable democracy than it was when Hamid Karzai took office nearly 20 years ago. Trillions of dollars thousands of American lives, and two decades made absolutely no difference in that respect. Trillions more, thousands more American lives, and another 20 years wouldn’t have made a difference, either.
President Biden was dealt two terrible options. One option was to continue the drawdown the previous administration negotiated directly with the Taliban, and ensure that Americans were safely returned home, but endure the tragic images we’re now seeing. The second option was to remain in country long past the negotiated withdrawal, and challenge the Taliban to make good on their threats to target and kill American troops, in retaliation. The second option would mean more flag-draped coffins returning home, an increase of many thousands of combat troops, and a third decade of war in Afghanistan.
President Biden wasn’t willing to commit our military or our country to that second option, and we absolutely support him in that decision – as does an overwhelming majority of the American people.
What is now important is that America makes good on its commitment to get our Afghan interpreters to safety. The administration is making progress in that regard, and with Kabul’s airport under our control, we have a good chance to move many more to safety. We hope and expect there will be good news in that regard, in the coming days and weeks.
When the withdrawal is complete, we must recalibrate how we wage war. America cannot keep pursuing open-ended military commitments, with unachievable missions. Congress must exercise much more stringent oversight, and never be allowed to just hand blank checks to administrations, indefinitely. The best way to avoid messy withdrawals is to not get into open-ended wars with missions our military cannot achieve, and shouldn’t be called on to achieve.”