Rep. Omar Statement on the Situation in Afghanistan

August 16, 2021
Press Release

MINNEAPOLIS—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) released the following statement on the situation in Afghanistan.

“Like many of us, I have watched the immense human tragedy in Afghanistan in horror. My heart goes out to the Afghan people, especially the many Afghans who risked their lives for a safer, freer Afghanistan, as well the of countless Americans who served in this conflict, thousands of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.

“It has also, for me, been personally painful. I know what it’s like to be the child in the family scrambling for safety in a war-torn country. I also know intimately the difference between making it out and not making it out. As with so many moments in this two-decade long conflict, I have not been able to read the news without seeing myself and my family, many years ago, desperately fleeing imminent violence in Somalia.

“Of course, the tragedy did not begin in the last couple of weeks. The hard truth about America’s longest war is that for 20 years, we made promises we couldn’t keep. The simple fact is that prolonging a war indefinitely would not have delivered a stable, peaceful Afghanistan. I agree with President Biden: an endless American military occupation of Afghanistan was unacceptable. 

“War and conflict never produce peace and stability. Violence and militarism, even when cloaked in the language of humanitarianism, are fundamentally at odds with human flourishing and opportunity. Violence only produces trauma, trauma that can turn into anger, vengefulness and a continuing cycle of violence. That must be a lesson as we deal with conflicts around the world.

“There will be plenty of time for confronting the fundamental failures of our Afghanistan policy over the course of many decades and four presidencies. I hope we genuinely confront them, and reckon with them, rather than doubling down on obsolete talking points from 20 years ago that fail to account for the thousands of American lives cost and trillion-plus dollars spent. I hope we will learn from this, as painful as it is.

“In the meantime, the urgency of the moment before us now demands we marshal an international coalition to evacuate every Afghan citizen who is fleeing for their lives. This is an American responsibility, and it is also a NATO responsibility, and it is also a human responsibility. We must hold the airport in Kabul and lead a multinational airlift operation. We have the capacity, and we must find the will to get them out. 

“There will also be Afghan human rights activists, and women, and civil society who choose to stay. We have an obligation to them, too. The President has been clear that the end of the war does not mean the end of our commitment to the Afghan people. We must begin to prove that with this airlift operation, and then I look forward to working with him to ensure that when the headlines and emotions of this deeply painful moment subside, we are still focused on the people to whom we owe an enormous amount.”