US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: The Eyes of the World are Watching

The Eyes of the World are Watching
By Sen. John Thune

The eyes of the world were on the United States and our leaders nearly 20 years ago to the day as we experienced one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in history. Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost at the World Trade Center in New York City, at the Pentagon in our nation’s capital, and in a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, and our country was forever changed.

At the time, a terrorist attack of this magnitude on American soil was unthinkable. It was a chaotic, uncertain time, but one thing was clear: America would not waiver in the pursuit of justice, and it would never hesitate to defend our nation, our people, and our ideals – at home or abroad.

True to a relentless American spirit, men and women from all walks of life answered the call to duty and signed up to serve in our armed forces. This generation of service members, including many from Ellsworth Air Force Base and the South Dakota National Guard, deployed around the globe to fight terror and defend freedom. Some of those same men and women are still serving today.

In the decades since 9/11, members of our all-volunteer military have taken action to bring the fight to terrorists around the globe and protect our nation. These men and women have dismantled terrorist safe havens, disrupted terror groups, thwarted attacks, hunted down and delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, and put their own lives at risk to make our world a safer place.

Twenty years later, the eyes of the world are again closely watching the United States and our leaders during the drawdown of our presence in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, under this administration’s watch, the withdrawal of U.S. forces has rapidly devolved from bad to worse to what can now only be described as an all-out crisis.

Everything we’ve witnessed over the last few weeks has been a stunning end to the United States’ effort in Afghanistan. For many, the unraveling of the country and the ensuing humanitarian crisis is personal, and I understand.

Prior to the Biden administration’s reduction of American troops in Afghanistan, reasonable people could disagree on the merits of keeping a sustained military presence in the country. Military experts and members of Congress, including myself, repeatedly warned the president about the dangers of withdrawing troops based on an arbitrary timeline rather than the security situation on the ground. President Biden did not heed this advice.

The Afghanistan crisis is a direct result of the shortsighted actions of this administration. The intelligence did not fail. The president did. Instead of taking decisive action to improve the situation on the ground, President Biden doubled down on his strategy by maintaining an arbitrary deadline for concluding our efforts to evacuate Americans and our allies. President Biden has effectively ceded all leverage to the Taliban. While a heroic effort is underway by our military, the administration’s actions continue to risk leaving an unknown number of American citizens and others in Afghanistan at the mercy of the Taliban.

Unfortunately, this crisis will likely have long-lasting consequences. The rushed exit left a significant amount of U.S. military equipment behind, including modern arms that are now in the hands of the Taliban. ISIS-K, a resurgent branch of the Islamic State, has tragically – and, given the ongoing chaos, not surprisingly – attacked the evacuation effort, killing several U.S. service members and civilians. There’s also a growing risk of a Taliban-led Afghanistan again serving as a safe haven for terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.

The world is watching as harrowing and unnecessary scenes continue to unfold across Afghanistan. People are also watching inspiring moments of humanity – our troops maintaining order in challenging conditions, comforting scared kids and parents, soothing babies, and handing out supplies.

To those American heroes, past and present, let me be crystal clear: The crisis we see today in no way diminishes the selfless service and significant sacrifice you and your families have made over the last 20 years. We are forever grateful for everything you’ve done for our country and for the years spent away from your families in far-flung corners of the world. There is no question that you made a difference.

It’s because of our troops’ service, sacrifice, and commitment that I’m so bitterly disappointed in the president and his administration for the dangerous decisions they’ve made over the past few weeks. I’m angry. I know many fellow South Dakotans are, too. But what was true 20 years ago is still true today: We should be undaunted in the pursuit of justice and in protecting our people. We can leave no American or ally behind in the hands of the Taliban.


16 thoughts on “US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: The Eyes of the World are Watching”

  1. If John Thune had stood up for President Donald J. Trump instead of allowing the fraud in the 2020 election, the problem in Afghanistan would not be happening! The Taliban would not be in power. The border would be secured, illegal immigrants would be deported, gas prices would be lower, etc. Thune, Rounds and Howdy Doody Johnson are not Republican’s, I doubt they even read the Republican Platform, the State and US Constitutions, and the Bill of Rights.

    1. That’s right! If they had supported Trump, he would have cured cancer and spoken to the aliens by now!

      I think we need to create a great golden Trump statue for us to worship!

      All hail Donald Trump!

      1. If you don’t realize that President Trump was better for the country than the senile old goat we have in there now then you are beyond help and should just move to San Francisco.

  2. Remember this was a Bush/Cheney war. I consider any deaths to be their responsibility. Republicans seem to have short memories.

    1. Uh, no. Biden could have done this with some intelligence and strength instead of the wussy, senile way he did. People like you will never admit when your guy is in the wrong. Pretty pathetic way to live your life.

      1. You mean like Trump did in 2019 with the Kurds?He left the Kurds all to be executed by ISIS because he ghosted them in the middle of the night. Biden screwed up, but you guys are really dreaming if you think Trump was going to get everyone out, allies included, without some casualties. I feel sorry for the 13 soldiers who are being politicized so extensively.

  3. Stolen elections have intended and unintended consequences. And in this case the whole world is paying the price, the latest these American and Afghan casualties. Unforgiveable.

  4. Biden stuck to Trump’s timeline remember?? Read any semi-coherent piece from when Trump announced the withdrawal, this exact nightmare was predicted. But yeah, definitely Biden’s fault, just like the “ballooning deficit” that was definitely predicted and then caused by Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy.

  5. I think there were 2 choices here. Get our military out and leave most of our allies behind and probably lose 10’s of thousands of innocent afghan civilians and a few American civilians. Or, finish up the withdrawal knowing that our military would be left in harms way and in a vulnerable position. We knew it was going to be a scramble once the gig was up and panic set in. I think everyone just hoped the Afghans would show some sort of resistance even for a couple weeks so people could exit. There were a lot of people over there who had no business being there, or at the least understood the risks of going there, especially with a planned withdrawal hanging over their heads since 2019.The military isn’t going to coordinate with every non-profit trying to save wild dogs or profiteering contractor trying to hold out to the last minute for that big paycheck. This wasn’t going to be an easy endeavor with so many people involved and needing to be exited. I’m glad the war is going to be over, but America really knows how to screw up what is supposed to be a short war. There are plenty of people to put the blame of this on and you can bet history is not going to look good on Trump or Biden when it comes to this.

    1. Well said, after 20 years, and all the party politics, my views haven’t changed. I didn’t think we should have been there to begin with, and I supported Trump’s plan to end the endless wars. It says a lot for Thune (Mitch’s Boy), who continues to spread this rhetoric to get people riled up to keep these wars going, to support whom? More revenue for the military industrial establishment, who are his big sponsors/donors?

      1. You won’t find a lot of vets (in my experience) who disagreed with the need to leave. The Army is not for building nations, but wrecking them. We lost sight of that. However, I gotta push back on the HOW we left. We screwed a bunch of brave people who fought alongside us and put their lives on the line to help us. Further, while the Taliban is, thankfully, gonna bring the hammer down on Bacha Bazi again, a lot of women are about to resume being raped as a matter of course. There aren’t easy answers here, but I think it is safe to say after the last couple weeks that this could have been done so, so much better.

        1. I definitely think it could have been done better. I just don’t see Trump doing much better and I voted for him. I think he would have left a lot more people in harm’s way(not our military, but civilians and those who helped) just like he did with the Kurds. He tends to do things to keep to his word and I don’t think any general was going to change his timeline. We can argue about hypotheticals all day, but it does no good because we will never know. I’m a huge proponent of our military and I’ve actually been angered more by the politicization of these 13 soldiers dying. The number of people going out of their way to show respect just because it is politically convenient now is getting tiresome. Every soldier who dies deserves a beer at the bar. They died saving lives that may have been lost and I don’t think they would do any different knowing the end result. They are brave heroes. I just feel really indifferent about it all because I don’t think either side is being really respectful at the moment and the ones being sacrificed are our military…..once again.

          1. I agree with your point about Trump doing similar things, though not at the same scale. I still dont think counterfactuals are helpful, though. The fact is, whether or not Trump would have done worse or better is largely irrelevant unless we are justifying votes. As it stands, Biden screwed up. And just like posters on this site will, at times, tie themselves into knots to justify his behavior, others are doing the same for Biden now. It’s disappointing.

            1. Yep. Call a spade a spade. Biden screwed up. Trump is irrelevant to the conversation and that goes for those who want to claim this wouldn’t happen under him(you are lying to yourself) or those who want to blame Biden’s failures on Trump(you are lying to yourself). They are both worthless positions.

                1. This was 20 years in the making. Thinking we can walk in and destroy a country and their government and then turn around and build a government that their people should be able to support and defend. It has never worked for us in all the countries we have disrupted. The sad part is, we will do it again because our leaders are all about making money for themselves and their buddies and war is a good way to do that.

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