While leaving vs. staying was a problematic decision regardless, when the Biden administration opted to leave the country, it needed to do it well. It has not and now needs to do everything possible at this eleventh hour to correct it.
According to NBC News, when the U.S. contingent left its principal facility, Bagram Air Base, it did so in the middle of the night without informing its Afghan army ally that it was going. Moreover, it cut the electricity to the entire base, an inexplicable act that was unwarranted and which should result in court-martial. This is no way to treat those we are leaving behind.
Estimates are that the Taliban now control up to 85 percent of the country, leaving the government—if that is what the collection of corrupt, incompetent and clueless characters in formal positions in Kabul can be called—with only a few remaining urban areas. It is only a matter of time—and not very much time at that—before the Taliban take over the entire country. When that happens, the tens of thousands of Afghans who interpreted, translated and otherwise assisted U.S. forces and contractors, and their families, will face a very dire future. Many of them will be tortured and executed.
The U.S. has a moral obligation to these people to get them out of Afghanistan immediately. That is not happening. Why not can be attributed to a president strangely unwilling to use his bully pulpit to demand that the State Department bureaucrats at the center of the visa-granting process get this done immediately, or else. Anything less is unacceptable.
The State Department’s inability to move at more than a snail’s pace is nothing new. Nor is its reluctance to implement policies with which its career bureaucrats disagree. This goes back at least to the late 1930s when the Department, under the direction of Assistant Secretary and overt anti-Semite, Breckenridge Long, condemned millions of European Jews to death by dragging its feet and actively denying visas to the desperate.
There is absolutely no excuse for this disgraceful behavior. I contacted both the White House and State Department regarding this matter. The White House response was a flaccid irrelevancy, a lifeless communication that avoided the question completely. The press office at the State Department did not respond at all.
Is there no one in the Biden administration who understands the urgency of getting these people at risk out of harm’s way? Is there no one there who remembers the shameful way in which the Vietnam War ended, with frantic Vietnamese hanging from helicopter landing skids as the choppers were evacuating the last Americans from the Saigon embassy rooftop, U.S. Marine guards pushing our allies off with rifle butts?
Although history may not exactly repeat itself, as Mark Twain said, “it rhymes.” We are in danger of repeating that dishonorable episode, one of the lowest points in American history.
July 16, 2021