Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Sergeant Nicole Gee, 23, of Roseville, Calif.

Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah

Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss, 23, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, 20, of Bondurant, Wy.

Corporal Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, Calif.

Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif.

Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Mass.

Corporal Humberto Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Ind.

Corporal Daegan William-Tyeler Page, 23, of Omaha, Neb.

Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Mo.

Seaman Maxton “Max” Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

These brave fallen gave “the last full measure” so that no American would be left behind.

Almost all of them were too young to remember 9/11.

Biden angrily addressed the nation, demanding praise for his “extraordinary success.” Attempting to take a victory lap for the mess he’s made, he doubled-down on the false narrative that chaos couldn’t have been avoided.

Yet, we’re still in Germany, and Japan, and Italy, and Korea, and 70 other nations including Syria and Iraq. Those 800 bases – some of them very small – have kept the homeland safe for the past 75 years, giving us the intelligence we need to use “over the horizon” targeting. Without those bases, we are blind, just like we were before 9/11.

The one place where we don’t have intelligence anymore is Afghanistan.

A few days ago, nearly 90 retired generals and admirals signed a letter demanding accountability for the “tragic and avoidable debacle.” Noting that we’ve given these terrorists a historic victory, they said, “The consequences of the disaster are enormous and will reverberate for decades, beginning with the safety of Americans and Afghans who are…hostages of the Taliban.”

This is not the end of our troubles. It is a beginning of a new and more dangerous era. “The damage to the US is indescribable,” said the generals. “We are seen, and will be seen for many years, as an unreliable partner… Trust in the US is irreparably damaged.”

“China benefits the most,” they said, “followed by Russia, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and others.” They also warned that, “terrorists around the world are emboldened and able to pass freely into our country through our open border with Mexico.”

China is threatening Taiwan, Putin is ordering the US not re-position forces in Central Asia, Iran is threatening Israel, and North Korea is revamping its nuclear weapons program. In the meantime, the US is openly discussing using American tax-payer money to bribe terrorists to allow us to rescue our stranded Americans, in a country where we don’t have an embassy.

Of course, the Chinese and Russia embassies in Kabul are still open and functioning.

We don’t leave Americans behind.

Afghanistan was a NATO mission. The reason our allies were there at all, was to show solidarity with the US after we were attacked on 9/11.

Yet, without telling our allies, we unexpectedly pulled out of that NATO mission, leaving American citizens – and our allies’ citizens – in mortal peril.

NATO responded with an emergency meeting, stating, “For the last 20 years, we have successfully denied terrorists a safe haven to instigate their attacks.” They begged Biden to remain until everyone was evacuated, calling the situation “dire.” Biden refused, sticking to his arbitrary deadline.

Now, our allies are openly wondering if they can continue, “in an alliance when Europeans and Americans have, not opposite, but different interests.” German Chancellor Merkel said, “For those who believed in democracy and freedom, especially for women, these are bitter events.” And French President Macron is openly discussing a new “strategic autonomy,” because Europe no longer trusts America.

Our closest partner is the most shocked. A British security advisor said, “NATO has been completely overtaken by American unilateral decisions.” The British Parliament also called an emergency meeting, imploring Biden to “hold the line for freedom.” Former Prime Minister Tony Blair – a long-time loyal friend of the US – called our retreat “imbecilic.” And the British press is mourning the death of the “special relationship” between our countries.

Feeling left out, Nancy Pelosi also called an emergency meeting, but not about Afghanistan. Instead, she implored Congress to vote for a colossal $3.5 trillion spending package that we can’t afford.

The G-7 nations of the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan also held an emergency meeting. Again, Biden told them that he had contingency plans to delay the deadline until we got everyone back home. But when the Taliban heard about the President’s promise, they told him no. “It’s a red line.”

So, a week after telling the world that we wouldn’t leave our people behind, the Leader of the Free World broke his promise to his nation – and his allies – and cowered to terrorists. Abandoning hundreds of Americans, and thousands of our allies, he hustled our nation into a shameful defeat.

There are already reports of door-to-door executions of America’s friends. Girls are already being forced into unwanted “marriages”. Women who’ve enjoyed decades of freedom and education are being thrown back into the Middle Ages. Some 2 million Afghans orphans are facing the cruelty of the Taliban. And a stranded Afghan interpreter said, “We have been left to die. We will be found by the Taliban and killed.”

This is not who we are. We don’t leave Americans behind.

The Washington Post calls this “a moral failure.” The United Nations is warning of a “humanitarian disaster.” The Wall Street Journal is reporting that an interpreter that risked his life in a blinding snow storm in a dangerous valley to save Senator Biden in 2008 was also left behind. We also abandoned 500 US-sponsored journalists of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. And we still don’t know how many Americans we’ve betrayed.

The military should be celebrated for successfully airlifting 124,000 people out of the hell-hole Biden created. Over the past score of years, we’ve spent a trillion dollars, and sent almost a million of our sons and daughters to Afghanistan – thousands whom never came back, and tens of thousands that came back with missing limbs –to keep America safe.

Their sacrifice was not in vain. For 20 years, America has been safe.

The sacrifice of veterans of Korea and Vietnam and the Persian Gulf was also not in vain. With the sad exception of 9/11 – for 75 years – America has been safe. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines faithfully completed their mission.

This war wasn’t lost by our military. It was lost by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

We now know that Biden knew the Taliban would conquer Afghanistan after we retreated. At the same time he was telling US reporters that it was “highly unlikely” that the Taliban would prevail, he told the Afghan President to change “the perception” that the Taliban was winning, “whether it is true or not,” said Biden.

Weeks later, Biden unceremoniously left the Afghans to their fate. He also left over $83B worth of US weapons; including 200 helicopters, 75,000 vehicles, 600,000 guns, and hordes of ammunition, night-vision goggles, and medical equipment; in terrorist hands. Even if they don’t know how to use that new equipment, they can easily sell it. Worse, China will reverse-engineer our technology to make weapons of their own. Not only that, but we left highly-sensitive biometric data of the people who helped us, and Biden admitted that we gave the Taliban lists of our hidden friends.

We literally left “kill lists” to help the terrorists murder our allies.

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Taliban is back in control, celebrating their improbable victory, and armed with US weapons. Far more dangerous than ever before, they are vowing to form a new “cradle of jihad.” A day after we left, they mocked us with huge coffin-draped “funerals” for the US and our NATO allies. “The world should have learned its lesson,” said a Taliban spokesman, “this is the enjoyable moment of victory.”

And we’re still relying on the tender mercies of terrorists to get Americans safely home.

Rep. Dave Belton represents the citizens of District 112, which includes Morgan County and the eastern side of Newton County.

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