Former President George W. Bush, on whose watch the Afghanistan war began, urged U.S. officials on Monday night to cut through bureaucratic red tape and guarantee safe passage for Afghans who helped the American military over two decades.
In a statement obtained by Just the News, Bush said he and former First Lady Laura Bush have been disheartened by the collapse of the Afghan government to the Taliban.
“Laura and I have been watching the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan with deep sadness,” the 43rd president said. “Our hearts are heavy for both the Afghan people who have suffered so much and for the Americans and NATO allies who have sacrificed so much.”
He called on the Biden administration to protect those in the country who aided NATO and U.S. forces.
“The Afghans now at the greatest risk are the same ones who have been on the forefront of progress inside their nation. President Biden has promised to evacuate these Afghans, along with American citizens and our allies. The United States government has the legal authority to cut the red tape for refugees during urgent humanitarian crises,” Bush said.
Bush said the U.S. has “the responsibility and the resources to secure safe passage for them now, without bureaucratic delay” and “our most stalwart allies, along with private NGOs, are ready to help.”
Bush said he and the former first lady are “confident that the evacuation efforts will be effective because they are being carried out by the remarkable men and women of the United States Armed Forces, diplomatic corps, and intelligence community.”
The former president, who launched the War in Afghanistan in 2001 after the Sept. 11 attacks, had a direct message to active duty U.S. troops and the veterans who have served in Afghanistan.
“Many of you deal with wounds of war, both visible and invisible. And some of your brothers and sisters in arms made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. Each day, we have been humbled by your commitment and your courage,” he said.
“You took out a brutal enemy and denied Al Qaeda a safe haven while building schools, sending supplies, and providing medical care. You kept America safe from further terror attacks, provided two decades of security and opportunity for millions, and made America proud. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and will always honor your contributions,” he added.
Bush said he remains optimistic despite the dire situation in Afghanistan after the U.S. troop withdraw.
“In times like these, it can be hard to remain optimistic. Laura and I will steadfastly remain so. Like our country, Afghanistan is also made up of resilient, vibrant people. Nearly 65 percent of the population is under twenty-five years old. The choices they will make for opportunity, education, and liberty will also determine Afghanistan’s future,” he said.
“As Dr. Sakena Yacoobi of the Afghan Institute of Learning, which has opened schools for girls and women around the nation, wrote this week: ‘While we are afraid, we are not defeated.’ She added, ‘Ideas do not disappear so easily. One cannot kill whispers on the wind. The Taliban cannot crush a dream. We will prevail, even if it takes longer than we wanted it to.’”
Bush continued, saying, “Laura and I, along with the team at the Bush Center, stand ready as Americans to lend our support and assistance in this time of need. Let us all resolve to be united in saving lives and praying for the people of Afghanistan.”