Former President George W. Bush issued a statement Monday expressing “deep sadness” over the debacle in Afghanistan.
Bush was president when America launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan to hunt down those responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Last month, in a rare display of comment on the policies of a successor, he said he disagreed with President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all military troops from Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post.
Bush said he was “afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm” as a result of the withdrawal.
“I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad. And I’m sad. Laura and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women. And they’re scared,” he said,
“I think about all the interpreters and people that helped — not only U.S. troops, but NATO troops — and they’re just, it seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people,” Bush said.
“And it breaks my heart.”
On Monday, he said in his statement that he and former first lady Laura Bush “have been watching the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan with deep sadness.
“Our hearts are heavy for both the Afghan people who have suffered so much and for the Americans and NATO allies who have sacrificed so much,” he said, according to a statement sent by the Bush Center.
Bush said no ally should be left behind.
“The Afghans now at the greatest risk are the same ones who have been on the forefront of progress inside their nation. President Biden has promised to evacuate these Afghans, along with American citizens and our allies,” he said.
“In the face of imminent and significant risk to women and girls in the region, we must seriously consider what we are willing to accept as a country.” Read our letter urging policymakers to take action in protecting Afghan women and girls. https://t.co/WBStVtceQ8
— George W. Bush Presidential Center (@TheBushCenter) August 15, 2021
“The United States government has the legal authority to cut the red tape for refugees during urgent humanitarian crises. And we have the responsibility and the resources to secure safe passage for them now, without bureaucratic delay. Our most stalwart allies, along with private NGOs, are ready to help,” Bush added.
Amid scenes of panic from Kabul, Bush said that with the American military in charge, there is hope for the best possible outcome.
“Laura and I are confident that the evacuation efforts will be effective because they are being carried out by the remarkable men and women of the United States Armed Forces, diplomatic corps, and intelligence community,” the statement said.
Bush then added a statement to veterans and service members.
“Many of you deal with wounds of war, both visible and invisible. And some of your brothers and sisters in arms made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. Each day, we have been humbled by your commitment and your courage,” he said.
Bush sought to validate the sacrifice of the more than 2,000 Americans who died and the more than 20,000 wounded in Afghanistan.
“You took out a brutal enemy and denied Al Qaeda a safe haven while building schools, sending supplies, and providing medical care. You kept America safe from further terror attacks, provided two decades of security and opportunity for millions, and made America proud. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and will always honor your contributions,” he said.
Bush, who was president in America’s dark days of adversity, said hope always endures.
“In times like these, it can be hard to remain optimistic. Laura and I will steadfastly remain so. Like our country, Afghanistan is also made up of resilient, vibrant people. Nearly 65 percent of the population is under twenty-five years old. The choices they will make for opportunity, education, and liberty will also determine Afghanistan’s future,” he said.
The former president then quoted Sakena Yacoobi of the Afghan Institute of Learning, who helped open schools for girls, as saying, “The Taliban cannot crush a dream. We will prevail, even if it takes longer than we wanted it to.”
“Laura and I, along with the team at the Bush Center, stand ready as Americans to lend our support and assistance in this time of need. Let us all resolve to be united in saving lives and praying for the people of Afghanistan,” the statement said in closing.
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