What’s the Plan in Afghanistan: The Biden administration doubled down on its efforts to evacuate citizens from Afghanistan who are considered “at-risk” in light of increasing Taliban violence across the country. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: What’s the Plan in Afghanistan
On Monday, the Biden administration doubled down on its efforts to evacuate citizens from Afghanistan who are considered “at-risk” in light of increasing Taliban violence across the country. The renewed urgency comes ahead of the United States’ planned military pullout at the end of the month. Last Friday, the first group of Afghan citizens who cleared security vetting arrived in the US. These were mostly translators or served alongside US troops and diplomats. The second wave will likely include “current and former employees of US-based news organizations, US-based aid and development agencies and other relief groups that receive US funding,” according to Matthew Lee of the Associated Press. The expedited evacuation efforts come as the Taliban ramps up pressure on some of Afghanistan’s largest cities. Over the past week, the front line has moved from the country’s rural areas or smaller cities to urban centers and busy transit hubs. In return, the US has also escalated airstrikes against the Taliban in an effort to spurn their advances. Here’s what both sides are saying about the situation overseas.
On The Left
Left-leaning outlets feature commentators who are calling on the Biden administration, Congress, and the US military to do more to rescue vulnerable Afghans. Without bold action, they believe many allies and their families will suffer horrendous fates.
“The Biden administration has a life-or-death decision to make about Afghanistan” Matt Zeller, CNN: “As America’s war in Afghanistan comes to an end, many see the inevitable parallels to Vietnam — a long aimless war, a determined enemy ready to out bleed us, and now an evacuation reminiscent of the chaos of Saigon’s final hours. When a war ends, two questions loom large: Was it worth it? And how do we end it? Only history can answer the first. Only we can answer the latter. … Should we choose to save our Afghan wartime allies — the interpreters, engineers, aid workers, and others essential to our effort — we are going to need the largest airlift since Berlin after World War II. … Either we accept the mass murder of people we made a promise to save or we take bold action. I argue we must do the latter. … The President should order the 82nd Airborne Division or the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force back into Afghanistan. We should retake airfields we held mere months ago. … From these air bases, we should begin the evacuation of our Afghan wartime allies that should have properly occurred before we withdrew any of our own forces. Anything less than this bold action all but guarantees our allies and their families who are left behind will die … How will any future allies be able to trust us?”
“The People We Leave Behind in Afghanistan” Farah Stockman, New York Times: “As US troops pull out of Afghanistan after nearly 20 years, and the Taliban surges in their wake, I’m worried about … everyone else who risked their lives to show outsiders around that beautiful, traumatized country. … Hundreds of interpreters have been killed over the years in Afghanistan and Iraq, including those who were waiting in agonizingly long visa-processing backlogs. … Interpreters were among the most influential people in the country. … By definition, they were educated, pro-American, hungry for modernity. Their aspirations and can-do personalities filled us with the hope that this war would end differently than Vietnam. … President Biden promised to evacuate as many as 16,000 Afghans who assisted the American effort to third countries. … But it’s unclear whether interpreters … who worked for foreign media companies or nonprofit groups, will qualify for a special visa. It’s also unclear what will happen to Afghanistan if its most educated and Western-leaning citizens flee.”
“A Cruel and Unjust Peace for Afghanistan” Matthew Hoh, Newsweek: “The US-constructed Afghan house of cards is finally facing its inevitable collapse. … Many in the government will lose their lives, while far more will be forced to flee. Thousands of everyday Afghans—like the interpreters who served with Western forces—having believed the promises, myths, and lies spun by the US occupation, will face much greater danger. … Continued combat will only engender the inevitable unintended consequences of war and beget greater violence. … In the 1980s, American designs and desires for ‘victory’ in Afghanistan actually fostered the rise of international terror groups—which consequently fueled the disastrous post-9/11 global war on terror. … Violence will not work and has never proven a lasting Afghan answer. At best, the Taliban-warlord deals of convenience and cynicism will produce fleeting—if merciful—ceasefires, offering ever-so-brief windows for stability and potential progress. What likely lays ahead is, in effect, a cruel and unjust peace.”
On The Right
Right-leaning outlets feature commentators with mixed opinions as it relates to the war in Afghanistan. Some think the US needs to continue to prop up the government. Others note that most Americans are war-tired and just want our troops to come home. The two contrasting opinions are positioned back-to-back below.
“How to Avert Disaster in Afghanistan” H.R. McMaster and Bradley Bowman, Wall Street Journal: “The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating rapidly. … If the US and allies don’t take urgent action, the world will bear witness to a disaster. … An American priority must be preventing the collapse of the Afghan government. … Other objectives should include limiting the humanitarian disaster and ensuring that the gains the Afghan people—especially women and girls—made since 2001 aren’t lost. … As a first step, the US should station close air support assets in Afghanistan and make clear that America will provide air support to Afghan forces. … As a second step, the US and its allies should ensure the Afghan Air Force has comprehensive contractor maintenance and logistics support based in Afghanistan. … Third, the US and partners should provide Afghan security forces with extensive intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support. … Failing to help Afghans who reject the Taliban’s advocacy of hatred and violence would lead to an unmanageable refugee crisis, which would destabilize Afghanistan’s nuclear-armed neighbor, Pakistan. Refugees would continue their journey beyond Central and South Asia to Europe and beyond.
“The Afghanistan Fiasco Is A Symptom Of A Greater Elite Problem” Sumantra Maitra, The Federalist: “Afghanistan is not for America to give or keep. It is and has always been a semi-feudal society, where there never was a coherent state in the entirety of human history. … One does not need to be a fan of Biden, or a leftist, for that matter, to think that total withdrawal from Afghanistan should be a bipartisan cause. Americans overwhelmingly favor bringing troops home from peripheral regions and avoiding foreign entanglements. … McMaster, widely regarded as a ‘scholar,’ is still worried about the potential fallout of US withdrawal on Afghan women. The American people, on the other hand, are not at all concerned about whether a sexual revolution goes on in Afghanistan or not. In that way, these interventions and humanitarian pretensions are primarily elite concerns. Most Americans are far more grounded, smart, and realist than that. … Afghanistan (and Iraq, Libya, and Syria) are not isolated debacles, and it would be foolish to consider them so. Fiascos like these will keep happening for as long as we harbor the delusion that all problems in the world are the United States’s concern, and deserve our blood and treasure.”
“Biden’s incomplete Afghanistan plan hurts interpreters and allies – it’s a disgrace” Rep. Ann Wagner, Fox News: “The decision to completely leave Afghanistan to the Taliban on a clear deadline of August 31, 2021, is a decision that makes the world a more dangerous place because it leaves us with no intelligence operation in Afghanistan from which to eliminate terrorists in the region. … We all want our brave men and women in uniform to come home. … We also never want to have to send them back. Look at how [the Biden administration] has ignored providing assistance and protection to the Afghan interpreters who worked with our troops, sought to support democracy, and protect American interests. … Do you know what’s even more disgraceful than Biden’s lack of commitment to these translators? The Biden administration claims that they are not able to process these translators quickly because of our immigration laws, though the administration can process over 700,000 illegal immigrants who have come across our southern border since the beginning of this year. … The Biden administration is once again showing the American people — and the world — where its priorities lie, and it’s not with the people who put America First.”
Flag This: What’s the Plan in Afghanistan
According to a Politico-Morning Consult survey published last month, 59 percent of registered voters support President Biden’s plan to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of August. At the party level, 76 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and 42 percent of Republicans support the plan. “When asked to choose between prioritizing the removal of American troops and providing support for allies in fighting terrorism, a partisan split could also be seen,” Joseph Choi notes for The Hill. “Almost 6 in 10 Democrats — 59 percent — are in favor of ‘getting Americans out of harm’s way,’ compared to 40 percent of Republicans who said the same. Twenty-three percent of Democrats chose ‘help support our allies, fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests,’ while 49 percent of Republicans selected this option.”
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Do you think more needs to be done to rescue American allies in Afghanistan including interpreters, journalists, and soldiers? Comment below to share your thoughts.