The former ambassador to Afghanistan under President Barack Obama testified virtually during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday, calling President Joe Biden’s military withdrawal from the country a “stain” on our national honor.
Ryan Crocker now serves as a non-resident senior fellow of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“We have accrued a great debt there that extends also to the thousands of Afghans who helped us in their mission. The [special immigrant visa] process has let them down,” Crocker testified.
Ryan Crocker, ambassador to Afghanistan under Obama, calls Biden’s disastrous troop withdrawal “a stain…on our national honor.” pic.twitter.com/cv9JTDoBi0
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“A member of the advisory committee for a group called No One Left Behind that has for years sought to move interpreters to safety [said] we left thousands behind. And that I think is a stain, again, on our national honor,” he added.
“So we need to figure out ways to go ahead. It won’t be easy. We gave up the leverage we had. We cannot give up the fight.”
Crocker’s official testimony included additional details.
“The list of damage to our national security and our values is long. We have allowed the Taliban and al-Qaida to reunite. The threat this poses to our own security is not theoretical — 9/11 actually happened, brought to us from Afghanistan by these same actors,” he wrote.
“At the same time, our complete withdrawal has degraded our intelligence capabilities. The strike in Kabul on what was supposed to be an Islamic State target but wasn’t foreshadows the future,” he added.
Crocker also said Afghan women and girls will “pay the price” for America’s failures in Afghanistan.
“We urged Afghan women and girls to step forward, into parliament, private enterprise, the classroom and the military. They did. And now they will pay the price for our lack of strategic patience,” he said.
“That has already started. Afghan interpreters and others provided direct assistance to our military and civilian personnel. They were critical to our efforts, and put their lives and those of their families at risk by working with us. … We left thousands behind.”
The former ambassador concluded with a shocking story that encapsulated the changes in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
“One of the projects that had the greatest impact in Afghanistan cost the least amount of money. It was the reconstruction of Ghazi Stadium in Kabul to FIFA standards, meaning that it could host World Cup matches,” he said. “For a soccer mad country, this was huge. But there was a deeper meaning.”
The stadium is now used by the Taliban to “carry out public punishments after Friday prayers, including beheadings and the stoning of women.”
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