President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is a military, diplomatic, and geopolitical disaster, but for the women and girls of Afghanistan, this betrayal put their fate directly into the hands of terrorists. One Afghan woman described the conditions under Taliban rule: “In these 20 years, we had a better life than today. Today, no one, no Afghan people, especially women, they don’t feel safe.” The Biden administration’s weak policies have jeopardized the safety of women and risk erasing two decades of progress towards equality.
Prior to U.S. involvement, the Taliban’s draconian interpretation of Sharia law imposed rules governing employment, education, and modesty for women. The rules were enforced by public stonings, amputations, and executions. In 2011, I joined a bipartisan delegation to Afghanistan to speak with women who were liberated by U.S. forces. The women I met were part of a new generation of female leaders who dedicated their lives to giving their daughters opportunities they never could have dreamed of under Taliban rule.
In Afghanistan today, the Biden administration’s abandonment incited a disastrous return to the past. Women and girls are being exiled from the workplace, confined to their homes, forced into marriages, and raped. The progress they had made towards equality over the past two decades is all but lost.
The Biden White House knew this was the likely result of their decision to precipitously withdraw from Afghanistan. Establishing equal opportunities for women was a key outcome of U.S. military intervention, and the risk of erasing these gains after our exit was obvious. Military commanders and administration officials evaluated conditions and warned that a hasty withdrawal would lead to a “sharp erosion of women’s rights and the return of international terrorist groups.” Still, Biden refused to listen to the advice of his generals, and instead charged ahead with his own timeline-based decision.
In reality, Biden had no plan for the women and girls of Afghanistan. He was careless enough to trust Taliban leaders when they insisted that “no prejudice against women will be allowed.” His exit gave them the perfect opportunity to seize U.S. planes, guns, armored vehicles, and night vision goggles — all tools in their arsenal to wield over their helpless victims.
The Biden administration cannot dismiss the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as an unforeseen misstep. The military community warned the president of the likely fallout, but he chose to ignore them. He was quick to “speak out” for the rights of the Afghan people but offered only radio silence in terms of substantive solutions. Make no mistake — Biden’s decision makes him complicit in the living nightmare he created. For this, and for a hundred other fatal mistakes, Joe Biden, should resign or face impeachment and removal from office, as well as others complicit in this disastrous decision.
Though some women in Afghanistan have endured Taliban rule before, most young women and girls have little idea of the weight of what’s to come. What they do know is that the leader of the free world has abandoned them, leaving behind little hope for the bright future that, just a few months ago, seemed all but assured. As one Afghan woman explained as she fled the Taliban, “I had lots of dreams, I had lots of hopes for Afghanistan, but now, I am in a bad situation and I’m just trying to find the way.”
Marsha Blackburn is the senior senator from Tennessee.