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Foster: Exit plan was missing for U.S. allies in Afghanistan | Opinion


Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series on the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Until Hurricane Ida became the top news story in August, the national news media was consumed by the troop withdrawal from Kabul and chaotic scenes of thousands of Afghans trying to flee the impending Taliban rule.

In the first column in this series, we learned that Donald Trump was obsessed with getting credit for the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to help his re-election campaign. But when the Taliban overwhelmed the Afghan army in a matter of 11 days, Trump was quick to blame President Joe Biden for carrying out his withdrawal plans.

The Trump administration failed to provide exit plans for tens of thousands of Afghans who worked side by side with American troops. Not only did they serve as invaluable interpreters, they assisted in logistics and scouting to aid the U.S. military effort.

Even worse, a key Trump aide worked to subvert the process of assisting Afghans and their families that would be targets of death squads if they remained in that country. That’s the opinion of a former national security official as reported by businessinsider.com

Olivia Troye worked as a Homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. She blamed a Trump senior aide, Stephen Miller, for “racist hysteria” that impeded the visa application process for Afghans who worked for the U.S.

“There were cabinet meetings about this during the Trump administration where Stephen Miller would peddle his racist hysteria about Iraq and Afghanistan. He and his enablers across government would undermine anyone who worked on solving the SIV issue by devastating the system at Department of Homeland Security and the State Department,” Troye wrote.

SIV is the special immigrant visa program that provided a path to U.S. residency for Afghan locals who worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan. The Trump administration had been working since early 2020 on plans for American troop withdrawal, but failed to implement plans to issue SIV for tens of thousands of eligible Afghan workers.

When the Afghan army collapsed in a matter of days in early August, mobs of desperate Afghan locals massed at the Kabul airport looking to escape the country. They feared the Taliban would murder anyone associated with America’s war effort.

The Biden administration came under sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle for its handling of the U.S. troop withdrawal and subsequent evacuations. But Biden was playing a hand that Trump dealt with the Taliban earlier this year, so there’s blame to go around on all sides.

Despite constant harassment from the Taliban, some 124,000 Afghans were airlifted out of the country to processing centers in Europe and the Middle East during a two-week period. Some 50,000 Afghans will be vetted for entry into the U.S. as permanent residents.

Some of these refugees already have relatives in the U.S. who, along with local agencies and charities, are providing housing and provisions to help them settle in America.

If Vietnamese refugees are any indicator, these new residents will do well in America. All they’re asking for is a chance to work and educate their children.

After Vietnamese boat people landed in the Houston area in the 1970s, for many years afterwards local high school proudly announced their top graduates that included a high percentage of students from Vietnamese families. Their parents worked hard, often in menial jobs, just to give their children a better start in life toward the American dream.

For anyone concerned about our newest residents becoming a terrorist threat, I understand the necessity of secure borders. But the greatest threat to our homeland won’t be from a refugee. Top security officials repeatedly say the “lone wolf” domestic terrorist is our greatest threat and often the most difficult to detect.

The history of our country is a history of immigration. Each successive wave of newcomers whether from Europe, Asia, Africa or Latin America brings new blood and new ideas and new customs that are blended in the mosaic we call America.

And who knows, in a generation or two, one of these families may bring forth a true leader to inspire our nation. Our 44th president, Barack Obama, comes to mind. The son of a Kansas-born mother and Kenya-born father has been out of office now for nearly five years, but has been voted the most admired man in America year for 12 straight years, tying the record of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Next: The aftermath of the evacuation.



Read More: Foster: Exit plan was missing for U.S. allies in Afghanistan | Opinion

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