“America’s longest war is finally over. Now, let us do everything we can to help those impacted by it — from our servicemembers, veterans, and their families to Afghans, refugees, and those around the world — while stopping endless wars once and for all.”
WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, released the following statement after the completion of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan:
“America’s longest war is finally over but our necessary reflection on the 20 years, countless American and Afghan lives lost, hundreds of thousands of heroic servicemembers put in harm’s way, and $1 trillion spent on an endless military presence must urgently continue.
“I applaud President Biden for being clear that there will never be a military solution in Afghanistan and for following through on our withdrawal. As the father of a veteran himself, the President acted courageously to follow through on his commitment, stand up to the defense industry, and put an end to two decades of war. I also send my gratitude to those American servicemembers who put their lives on the line year after year, including in the difficult final weeks of the withdrawal, and my heart goes out to the families of the more than 2,300 servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I am also grateful to the anti-war, immigrant rights, and progressive organizers who have been at the forefront of making the case and building the movement in the streets and the halls of Congress for two decades that war was not the answer. Even as we focus on the important tasks at hand, we should not forego the need to examine what led us into Afghanistan in the first place and we should be clear about our mistakes, so that we can ensure that this does not happen again.
“Today opens a new chapter in which we must rebalance our national security posture to emphasize diplomacy, cut the bloated $740 billion Pentagon budget, and reassert congressional war powers. In the short term, we must put in place a multilateral diplomatic strategy for an inclusive, intra-Afghan process to bring about peace while supporting reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. At the heart of this must be avoiding further bloodshed, protecting human rights, and getting humanitarian aid to those in need.
“Additionally, we must coordinate with international partners to ensure safe and secure passage for any Americans, Afghan partners, and foreign nationals who want to depart Afghanistan. We must also do everything we can to welcome Afghan refugees with open arms. That means guaranteeing that refugee processing moves forward without bureaucratic delay, expediting and expanding Special Immigrant Visas and humanitarian parole, raising the refugee cap, increasing resettlement support, and granting Temporary Protected Status to Afghans residing in the U.S.
“I remain committed to leading this pivotal humanitarian and resettlement work in Congress not only as a member of the Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee but as someone who came to America alone at the age of 16 and then founded the largest immigrant and refugee organization in Washington State immediately after September 11, 2001 to address the backlash, hate crimes, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and discrimination against immigrant communities of color in the wake of 9/11.
“Our activism did not stop there. As Congress passed a flawed authorization for use of military force in 2002, we took to the streets. Our anti-war march became the largest rally in Seattle as organizers lined the streets for miles. Speaking at the rally, I argued that going to war would be a devastating and disastrous mistake. It was clear to me from the start that rushing into yet another war would only lead to endless war — and it did. Nearly two decades later, America’s longest war is finally over. Now, let us do everything we can to help those impacted by it — from our servicemembers, veterans, and their families to Afghans, refugees, and those around the world — while stopping endless wars once and for all.”