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What’s subsequent for the US in Afghanistan? 4 important tasks

(RNS) — There’s nonetheless unfinished enterprise in Afghanistan. Our consideration must be directed to 4 important tasks.

First, we should do all we are able to to get in another country those that put themselves in danger by working with the US towards the Taliban. We’ve an ethical accountability to guard those that risked their lives working with U.S. troops and different U.S. companies.

In 2009, Congress created a Special Immigrant Visa for many who had been employed by or on behalf of the U.S. authorities in Afghanistan for not less than two years. For all sensible functions, the Trump administration had stopped processing these visas due to the president’s antipathy towards immigrants. Consequently, earlier than the autumn of Kabul, solely 34,500 Afghans had acquired such visas, with about 15,000 of them resettled within the U.S., many by means of the assistance of religious organizations.

As well as, getting an SIV requires an advanced 14-step bureaucratic course of involving a number of companies and a great deal of paperwork. The method on common takes three years though Congress mentioned it ought to solely take 9 months. Consequently there was already a backlog of 18,000 candidates ready for visas when Kabul fell.

There are greater than 300,000 Afghan civilians who had been affiliated with the U.S. throughout our 20-year struggle, in response to the International Rescue Committee. That’s near the variety of Southeast Asians admitted to the US after the Vietnam Battle, however solely a minority of those Afghans would qualify for SIVs.

The president has the authority to chop by means of all this crimson tape and he ought to. For instance, the army ought to be capable of fast-track anybody it believes was instrumental in saving American lives. This is not going to be straightforward with the Kabul airport surrounded by Taliban troopers, however we should rescue these we are able to. If in the course of the chaos on the airport, some “undeserving” Afghans additionally get in another country, that may be a small worth to pay to rescue those that supported us.


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Second, after the Kabul airport is evacuated, we might want to begin a nationwide reflection on what went flawed in Afghanistan. This contains not simply the Biden administration’s failure to anticipate and put together for the fast fall of the Afghan army and authorities, but in addition the 20 years of failed insurance policies from a number of administrations. Why did we make the identical errors we made in Vietnam?

Folks evacuated from Afghanistan step off a bus as they arrive at a processing heart in Chantilly, Virginia, on Aug. 23, 2021, after arriving on a flight at Dulles Worldwide Airport. (AP Photograph/Andrew Harnik)

We should always start with the 11 “classes realized” experiences from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. These brutally trustworthy experiences narrate the folly of American insurance policies, the lies advised by U.S. army and authorities officers, the corruption of the Afghan army and politicians, the failure of our army and police coaching applications and the traitorous actions of our “ally” Pakistan.

The inspector normal additionally factors out that due to the fast turnover in American personnel in Afghanistan, we didn’t combat a 20-year struggle however 20 one-year wars with nobody staying round lengthy sufficient to study from their errors or to ascertain the relationships essential to function efficiently in Afghanistan. This was particularly harmful in a system that solely rewarded excellent news.

The newest report by the inspector normal, “What We Need to Learn: Lessons From Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction,” needs to be obligatory studying for all People, particularly members of Congress and the media. The Washington Publish dug into the interviews and paperwork behind these experiences and in December 2019 revealed “The Afghanistan Papers,” additional exposing a historical past of failures.


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Third, these liable for the failures must be held accountable. In the event that they lied below oath earlier than Congress, they need to be prosecuted. In the event that they lied to the American public, they need to be known as out. It’s sickening to see a parade of former generals, authorities officers and so-called consultants opining on CNN about what went flawed with out being aggressively interrogated for his or her accountability for this 20-year fiasco.

If I had my approach, the generals and authorities officers who supported a troop surge or advised us the Afghan military and authorities would “quickly” be capable of stand on their very own would lose their pensions. They had been both mendacity or incompetent. Likewise, Washington “consultants” who spouted foolishness for 20 years ought to lose their suppose tank jobs and be dropped from media supply lists.

Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan presidential palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Zabi Karimi)

Taliban fighters take management of the Afghan presidential palace after President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2021. (AP Photograph/Zabi Karimi)

Fourth, we want an trustworthy and unemotional dialogue of our future relations with Afghanistan. Whether or not Afghanistan falls aside or holds collectively below the Taliban stays to be seen. The nation’s tribal divisions might resurface with out a widespread enemy to unite them. Afghanistan has not had a way of nationwide unity because it misplaced its king in 1973. With the Taliban itself divided, varied factions might activate one another in a wrestle for dominance.

Even when they keep unified, the Taliban have no idea find out how to run a contemporary technocratic society, nor will they’ve the U.S. {dollars} to finance it. Afghanistan’s relations with its neighbors (Iran, Pakistan and China) are additionally unsure. Will the Afghan Shiite minority look to Iran for cover? Will the Taliban now activate Pakistan? Will Afghans help Muslim dissidents in China?

With out boots on the bottom, the U.S. should rely upon regular diplomatic and financial instruments in coping with Afghanistan. We won’t be able to manage what occurs, however affected person and cautious insurance policies might need affect on the sides.

Twenty years after the autumn of Saigon, the US reestablished full diplomatic relations with Vietnam. Now Vietnam is seen as one among our staunchest allies towards China. It’s too early to talk of such issues now, however those that acknowledged our Afghan journey was doomed from the beginning needs to be those to whom we pay attention now, not the individuals who acquired us into this mess.

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