Former US Sen. Pat Roberts, other area lawmakers react to US evacuation of Afghanistan

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The fall of Kabul has a worldwide ripple effect.

It’s even felt by U.S. military members and leaders here in the metro. Retired U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, spoke with FOX4 on Monday.

Roberts, who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the methods used to remove soldiers is proving to be a mistake.

“If you leave an area like that, there’s a void, and bad people fill it,” Roberts told FOX4. “If you are a world leader and you are the only people who can guarantee some degree of stability in an area right beside China and India and Pakistan, and also the centerpiece of where 9/11 came from, and could be again. This is a horrible thing for them to go through.”

Scars gained in both Gulf Wars will never fade for members of the U.S. military. Even after those conflicts faded, casualties continued to add up for American forces, where roughly 2,500 soldiers have been killed since 2001.

When American leaders followed through on plans to remove soldiers from Afghanistan last week, Taliban fighters needed only a few days to topple Kabul.

Retired U.S. Army Paratrooper Thomas Duenez, who now makes his home in Overland Park, was sent to Afghanistan roughly 20 years ago. He was only 19 years old at the time.

Duenez still deals with pain from various injuries he suffered during his time in the service.

“I’m in absolute disgust,” Duenez said. “We’re leaving the people responsible for building their country with no support. No funding. Just bye, it didn’t work out.”

Roberts said he realizes the overthrow of Kabul causes deep pain for families of American soldiers who died while defending it from Taliban forces. Roberts compared the fall of Kabul to crucial events at Saigon and Benghazi.

Roberts stopped short of blaming recent presidents — Biden in particular, who he said wouldn’t deliberately harm the Middle East or Americans who care for it.

Other Kansas and Missouri law makers have released statements Monday regarding the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

“The chaos we are seeing in Kabul was preventable. The Biden administration’s unorganized and haphazard withdraw process will make our country and the world less secure.

“President Biden’s announcement in April to completely withdraw American troops by September 11 without taking appropriate security precautions – including preparing for a return of the Taliban to Kabul – was irresponsible and will damage America’s reputation and interests for years to come. Additionally, the lack of urgency to do right by the thousands of Afghans who worked alongside Americans will be a source of shame for this administration.

“I visited Afghanistan in 2017 to engage with American servicemembers who were supporting anti-terrorism operations. Thank you to each of them and the thousands of men and women who answered the call to serve our country over the last two decades. They served with duty and purpose and deserve our thanks and respect.”

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

“President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a disastrous display of incompetence that has provoked a humanitarian crisis. He and his administration failed to adequately prepare, failed to safeguard Americans and those who have helped us, drastically underestimated the speed with which the Taliban would overrun Kabul and other parts of the country, and have generally shown themselves unable to fulfill their commitment to an orderly withdrawal.

“Those who advocated 20 years of nation building in Afghanistan and continually promised the American people that Afghan security forces would soon be able to defend themselves have much to answer for as well. For two decades, almost no one has leveled with the American people about the true state of affairs in Afghanistan.

“President Biden’s incompetence and failure of leadership is only the latest failure from the Washington establishment in this long war in which so many Americans have honorably fought and died. All of them should answer to the public.”

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kan.

“President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal has turned into an absolute catastrophe. No amount of media spin from the White House can detract from the horrific fall of Kabul – something which was preventable following proper planning. Instead of using the conditional drawdown, the Biden Harris administration set a hard deadline for Sept. 11 and made no real plan other than pleading with the Taliban – so make no mistake, this surrender is Biden’s fault. Just last month Biden told reporters that ‘speed is safety’ when it comes to the drawdown. He clearly was wrong.”

U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan.

“The world became less safe this week. President Biden’s foreign affairs strategy is negligent, near-sighted, and dangerous.

“President Biden willfully neglected the situation in Afghanistan. As our country’s sole actor in authorizing covert action, President Biden receives regular and invaluable intelligence information that warns of brewing international trouble well before it materializes. With that kind of intelligence resources at his fingertips, President Biden still chose to mislead the American people and ignore the seriousness of Taliban threats, including the threat to overrun the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. 

“President Biden enacted a near-sighted policy in Afghanistan. For more than 20 years, Afghans have enjoyed freedoms secured to them in part by the United States. They were able to attend school, work where they wanted, vote, and live safely. The acceleration of Taliban terrorism is a human tragedy as those rights diminish before our eyes. President Biden failed to recognize these democratic freedoms or pay respect to the men and women who fought for them when he speedily removed America’s presence in the region with no real strategy. He prioritized the Taliban’s reputation above our country’s developments in the region and reduced his Administration’s work to pleading with the Taliban.

“President Biden has put Americans in danger. The Taliban’s ability to redistribute their terrorists across the country in only a matter of days is frightening for Americans when hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are already crossing our southern border. President Biden has left our borders open to American-hating terrorists fleeing Afghanistan and other countries with terrorist regimes. President Biden refuses to consider the safety of Americans 7,400 miles away in Kabul and 950 miles south of Kansas on our southern border. 

“President Biden’s policies have made Americans less safe, and the ramifications will soon echo across the world even when his own silence is deafening. We need to bring our brave military home, but only when we have a good-faith understanding of the situation on the ground and a strategically planned execution, including counter-terrorism and remaining special forces. We need a commander-in-chief who knowingly considers every option and leaves no page unturned; who makes strategic, long-term plays for the future of America; and who keeps us safe. A failure on any of these fronts risks the long-term security and credibility of both Afghanistan and the United States of America.”

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kan.

“The reports from Afghanistan are alarming and heartbreaking. I’m concerned for US citizens and Afghan partners finding themselves trapped, and for civilians facing control by Taliban terrorist forces. We must act quickly to ensure the safe withdrawal of our global partners.

“Growing up in a military family, I know the sacrifices that servicemembers and their families have made over the last two decades under several different Administrations. We will not forget the toll this war has taken, and my heart is with those who have served as we watch these events unfold.

“What is clear is that we lacked accurate intelligence and therefore proper planning regarding the safety of American and foreign diplomats and the many Afghans who worked to support the U.S. mission. We will seek to gain a better understanding of those decisions in the days ahead, but for now we must focus on their safety as our top priority.”

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who once served as U.S. Representative for the 4th District of Kansas, had this to say about the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

“It is sad to see what is happening in Afghanistan today. The fact that, I mean I could go on, the fact that we got our military before we got our diplomats out, makes no sense to any one of you in this room. The fact that we didn’t make clear to the Taliban, that if they chased us out of town, we were going to chase them back to their town.

“I pray that we get this right, I pay that the Biden administration figures this out, and they begin to behave in the way that we did to deliver a model that created peace and deterrence and security and I pray prosperity for this great nation.

“You know, I don’t know what this administration will do next in Afghanistan. I frankly I don’t know exactly what they did here.”

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan.

On Sunday, Marshall tweeted: “This White House continues to get it wrong every time on foreign policy. Their chaotic Afghanistan pull out has led to the hasty collapse of the Afghan government and put Americans and our allies in danger. Our focus now must be to get our people out safely!”

He replied to the previous tweet saying, ”As @mikepompeo has said, you can negotiate peace with the Taliban, but you can’t trust them. Like President Eisenhower, he believes in strength through peace. This White House should have adopted this strategy instead of projecting weakness and placing American lives at risk.”

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

Blunt who has served on the Intelligence Committee in both the House and Senate, released the following statement on Afghanistan.

“The catastrophe that has unfolded in Afghanistan was an unforced error. We are now faced with a devastating collapse of our intelligence gathering capabilities while terrorists regain a foothold to launch attacks against the United States and our allies. The U.S. could have maintained a limited presence that provided stability in Afghanistan and protected our national security interests. This chaotic withdrawal will, in my view, prove to be a major mistake.

“The most important thing President Biden and his administration have to do now is get the Afghan people who stood by our side to safety. They risked their lives for our country and we cannot abandon them. Failing to provide for their safety will be something our country regrets for a long time. “I am grateful to all of the U.S. military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel who have served in Afghanistan. We will always honor the sacrifices that they and their families have made.”

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