Common Defense Urges Congress to Expand Scope of Afghanistan Investigations or Risk Another Boondoggle

September 1, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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WASHINGTON, DC — Last night, a coalition of national organizations sent a letter to the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees urging them to expand the scope of their investigations into the war in Afghanistan. The letter comes in response to reports that these committees intend to focus their oversight exclusively on the recent withdrawal, and do not plan to investigate the significant issues that plagued America’s 20-year war effort in Afghanistan. Representatives from the groups offered the following statements on their efforts:

 “The veterans and military families of Common Defense applaud President Biden for ending America’s longest war,” said Naveed ShahGovernment Affairs Associate at Common Defense.“While the evacuation was messy, the road leading to the desperate, tragic situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport is 20 years long. Any investigations must take into account the two decades worth of corruption, lies, and incompetence. If we fail to learn from it, history will repeat itself.” 

“Like with any military operation, there should be a thorough after-action review of how the evacuation from Kabul was conducted and there should be accountability for any legitimate failures during the execution or planning of this mission,” said Dan Caldwell, Senior Adviser at Concerned Veterans for America. “But this review should not be confined to just this last phase of the conflict. The American people deserve and demand accountability for the whole 20 years of America’s war in Afghanistan, not just the last 20 days.”

“Congress shouldn’t pretend the primary problem with the war in Afghanistan was how it ended, as opposed to how we failed for so long to remove all U.S. forces. Examine the mistakes made in exiting, but do not forget that there is no good way to exit a failed war,” said Defense Priorities Policy Director Benjamin H. Friedman. “That means investigating the years of lies and exaggerations about the progress of nation building in Afghanistan, especially those concerning the morale and capability of the Afghan security forces, and whether the failure to anticipate their rapid collapse resulted from believing this propaganda.

“Our military families deserve maximal transparency and accountability for the decisions that led us to today,” said Sarah Streyder, Executive Director of Secure Families Initiative. “Not only should that include implementation of the withdrawal, but also the policies that perpetuated two decades of suffering and loss in our community. Any investigation that does not account for that broader context will fall short.”

 “Focusing Congress’ considerable investigatory resources on the withdrawal alone is a dangerous mistake,” said Adam Weinstein, Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute. “The American people deserve a full accounting of the 20 years of lies and bad policies—advanced by American leaders—that sustained our failed nation-building exercise and set the conditions for a chaotic withdrawal; if Congress does not interrogate the root causes of the failures in our policy toward Afghanistan, we are doomed to repeat them.”

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