Former President George W. Bush issued a statement saying that he and former first lady Laura Bush have watched the “tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan with deep sadness.”
Bush has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for launching what would become the country’s longest war in Afghanistan a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, initially in an effort to topple the Taliban-run government and combat Al Qaeda. His decision to shift the focus of the “war on terror” to invade Iraq in 2003 has been equally condemned across the board.
“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,” Bush said in the statement issued a day after Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul fell to the Taliban.
While citing President Biden’s vow to evacuate Afghans who assisted U.S. troops during the country’s military mission in Afghanistan, Bush urged the U.S. to “cut the red tape for refugees” who are trying to flee the country amid the pandemonium that broke out following the Taliban’s rapid takeover.
“The Afghans now at greatest risk are the same ones who have been on the forefront of progress inside their nation,” Bush said, adding that “we have the responsibility and the resources to secure safe passage for them now, without bureaucratic delay.”
Bush said that he is “confident that the evacuation efforts will be effective” due to the military, diplomatic corps and intelligence community.
Bush then expressed his gratitude toward troops who have fought in Afghanistan since 2001.
“Each day, we have been humbled by your commitment and your courage. You took out a brutal enemy and denied Al Qaeda a safe haven while building schools, sending supplies, and providing medical care,” Bush said. “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.”
Bush’s statement was issued hours after President Biden stood “squarely” by his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Biden argued that he could either follow through with a withdrawal that his predecessors began or escalate the crisis into its third decade, which would put more American lives in danger. Bush has said previously that he didn’t support efforts to pull all U.S. troops from the region.
Biden previously indicated that the U.S. military mission would end on Aug. 31. The Taliban, however, seized cities throughout Afghanistan as the drawdown of troops and personnel ensued. On Sunday, the Taliban entered Kabul.
Amid jarring images of U.S. allies seeking to flee Afghanistan, right-wingers have taken to whipping up panic and fear mongering over Afghan refugees following the Biden administration’s pledge to provide assistance on evacuation efforts.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Biden & his radical deputies will use their catastrophic debacle in Afghanistan as a pretext for doing to America what Angela Merkel did to Germany & Europe.
— Stephen Miller (@StephenM) August 16, 2021
Tucker Carlson, already going there: "If history is any guide, and it’s always a guide, we will see many refugees from Afghanistan resettle in our country, and over the next decade, that number may swell to the millions. So first we invade, and then we are invaded." pic.twitter.com/4ES5fz4reb
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) August 17, 2021
Ingraham: Is it really our responsibility to welcome thousands of refugees from Afghanistan? pic.twitter.com/Sopvx4RJ0H
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 17, 2021