RECAP: Afghanistan – What Comes Next?

August 19, 2021

It’s clear that there are more questions than easy answers in Afghanistan, and JDCA is providing an opportunity to ensure your questions and concerns are heard, as well as resources to get involved. Yesterday, Jewish Dems hosted an important and frank conversation about what comes next in Afghanistan with Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), a Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan, and Dr. Evelyn Farkas, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense who served in Afghanistan. We’re grateful to both of them for addressing the difficult questions that remain after twenty years of war in Afghanistan. Rep. Auchincloss and Dr. Farkas provided many unique insights that are crucial to understanding what America, and the world, must do next to save as many lives as possible. If you missed the call, or would like a recap, read these key quotes and click below to watch the recording.

Rep. Auchincloss on how the Taliban was able to overtake Kabul: “Imagine being on the front lines, and knowing that the United States has built your country an army, has built your country an air force, has invested tens of billions [of dollars] into it, but because of the corruption of your senior command, they can’t even get you bullets and rations at the front lines. That type of immoral leadership will crack morale every time. So I was probably like most people, somewhat surprised by the sheer horsepower of the Taliban advance, but I was not surprised by the lack of willpower by the Afghan resistance.”

Dr. Farkas on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan: “It’s really important to remember that what we really should be considering when we engage in conflict, or really importantly in foreign policy issues, is that we want to manage them…so the question was how do we best manage the situation in Afghanistan going forward, and it was clear to many people, myself included, that we needed to withdraw our large military commitment, that that was no longer tenable, it was no longer achieving our objectives…But at the same time, there are many different ways to manage the situation in Afghanistan going forward, and we missed an opportunity to do it better using diplomacy, starting with the decisions made under the Trump administration.”

Rep. Auchincloss on counterterrorism in Afghanistan: “Objectively, the counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan the last two decades has been successful. We’ve protected any attacks on the U.S. homeland from Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden is dead. But counterterrorism – I mean every morning you wake up it’s another mission. So we’ve got to be keeping a close eye on Al-Qaeda affiliated prisoners who were released…And we need to assure the Taliban that we retain a right to strike terrorist training camps and terrorists themselves anywhere in the country. That mission is ongoing, it’s gone well the last twenty years, we need to make sure it continues to go well.”

Dr. Farkas’s lesson learned on the War in Afghanistan: The real issue was, somewhere along the way with this counterinsurgency objective, we started to get excited about transforming Afghanistan as a society, and that should not have been our mission and our objective.”

Rep. Auchincloss’s lesson learned on the War in Afghanistan: “The single most important failure of decision making, in Situation Room after Situation Room, was sunk-cost bias. ‘More time, more troops, more treasure. Give us just another year and we’ll get it done.’ This president deserves a tremendous amount of credit for having the integrity to say ‘no more.‘”

Jewish Dems agree with President Biden that we must prioritize human rights, but we cannot continue to risk American lives fighting an endless war. Daniel Silverberg, a former Department of Defense official and former national security adviser to House Majority Leader Hoyer, wrote an important op-ed emphasizing that President Biden “did not decide to withdraw so much as he chose to acknowledge a long-festering reality, one accelerated by the previous administration’s withdrawal announcement.” Donald Trump’s administration negotiated with the Taliban and oversaw the release of Taliban terrorists and leaders from prison. Republicans were silent then, and instead of turning this into a partisan issue. We urge Republicans to join us in welcoming as many Afghan refugees as possible to our shores.

Take action with JDCA – urge Congress to support the addition of crucial emergency funding to the budget reconciliation package that will aid the resettlement process for Afghan refugees.

In addition to taking action with JDCA, we encourage you to take action with organizations supporting refugees and the people of Afghanistan. Click on the links below to learn how you can help.

  • HIAS is calling for “large scale humanitarian evacuations for those whose lives are in danger. This includes not just Afghans who were affiliated with the U.S. mission, but also human rights activists (especially women and girls), journalists, and religious minorities.” Click here to take action with HIAS.
  • No One Left Behind is the only nation-wide association of wartime allies in the US dedicated to ensuring that America keeps its promise to our interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan. Sign their petition calling on Congress to recognize the heroism of Afghan translators, who saved American lives.
  • Women for Afghan Women is the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan, providing life-changing services, education, and vocational training for clients who have endured rights violations.
  • The International Refugee Assistance Project helps to defend the legal and human rights of refugees and displaced people around the world.

Thank you for your continued support of JDCA. We are grateful for your partnership, and wish you an early Shabbat Shalom.


Hon. Ron Klein,
Board Chair, Jewish Democratic Council of America

Halie Soifer,
CEO, Jewish Democratic Council of America