Nebraskans React as Taliban Regain Control of Afghanistan

Aug. 16, 2021, 4 p.m. ·

Nebraska Senator Tom Brewer
Nebraska Senator Tom Brewer, who was wounded while serving in Afghanistan. (Photo from Zoom)

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The lightning-fast fall of Afghanistan back to Taliban control that culminated with the fall of Kabul over the weekend has come as a shock to Nebraskans who have spent time there. They say the future of the country is murky and there are questions about how the U.S. let it happen.

Nebraska Senator Tom Brewer spent six tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army and was wounded in several different attacks. He said the speed at which the Taliban have taken over is surprising, but he’s optimistic that the U.S. presence did so some good over the past 20 years.

“We hope that we planted a lot of seeds in the minds of people about what freedom is like and that maybe down the road there will be a groundswell of folks wanting to go back to the way things were when the Americans were there,” Brewer said.

Tom Gouttierre has also spent a considerable amount of time in Afghanistan starting in 1965 and is the former head of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Afghanistan Studies. He said without U.S. support, members of the Afghan army had to think about their families as Taliban forces advanced.

“Their morale and their commitment fell because the first thing they’re thinking about now is to protect their family from retribution and they made the choices they had to make with those thoughts in mind,” Gouttierre said.

He fears for many of the people in the country who may not have much of a future.

“I’m really concerned, particularly for those people who worked with us, and then also of course for the women, the girls, what kind of future they may have in a country where the philosophy is more akin to Al Qaeda and ISIS than it is to anything that we would have hoped for,” Gouttierre said.

Nebraska’s congressional delegation has also weighed-in on the latest developments, including Senator’s Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer and Representatives Jeff Fortenbury and Don Bacon, who have all been critical of the U.S. decision to pull out of Afghanistan so quickly.