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Hey, What's Going On In Afghanistan?
A news roundup!
The US military mission in Afghanistan has ended, so right on cue, Republicans are calling for Joe Biden to tell them the real truth about how badly he did, because maybe that will help take some attention away from the January 6 commission. Insurrection supporter Tom Cotton and 26 other Senate Republicans have sent the White House a letter requesting a full accounting of how many Americans remain in Afghanistan following the military evacuation, Politico reports.
The letter asks for information on "the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan." It also frets about the possibility that instead of evacuating Americans and Good Afghans, some very Bad Afghans may have made it onto the evacuation flights, including "Afghans with ties to terrorist organizations or serious, violent criminals."
That bit appears to be based on recent reporting by Defense One that one evacuee with possible ISIS ties was detained in Qatar, and as many as 100 evacuees have been flagged for further scrutiny. Not mentioned by the senators is the line in the Defense One story mentioning that "In most cases, those Afghans—many of whom have already been vetted through the special immigrant visa process—were cleared by follow-on screening." Gotta scare the hometown folks about refugees, after all! [ Politico / Defense One ]
Those Visas Didn't Turn Out To Be So Special
Also, a State Department briefer told reporters that the "majority" of Afghans who had applied for special immigrant visas had not made it out of the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The U.S. still doesn't have reliable data on who was evacuated, nor for what type of visas they may qualify, the official said, but initial assessments suggested most visa applicants didn't make it through the crush at the airport.
"I would say it's the majority of them," the official estimated. "Just based on anecdotal information about the populations we were able to support." [...]
"Everybody who lived it is haunted by the choices we had to make and by the people we were not able to help," the State Department official said.
That is not good to hear. [ WSJ ]
For a painful account of the frustrations involved in the SIV program, see David Rhode's New Yorker story of his own efforts to help the family of Tahir Luddin, an Afghan journalist who, along with Rhode and an Afghan driver, escaped Taliban captivity in Pakistan after Rhode was taken hostage in 2009. Luddin, now a US citizen, was able to get his five oldest kids to the US, but his wife and the rest of his kids remained stuck in Afghanistan, with endless paperwork delays. (They finally made it to Qatar during the recent evacuation.) [ New Yorker ]
The Journal also says that, of the fewer than 200 Americans still in Afghanistan most are likely in families where some members have US citizenship or green cards, while others don't have either.
"The reluctance of mixed-status families seems to register with [the U.S. government] as not wanting to leave," said Morwari Zafar, an Afghan-American anthropologist who founded The Sentient Group, a development consulting firm. "The access afforded to them by their status competes with their social and personal obligation to stay with loved ones."
Has Tom Cotton been briefed?
The State Department and White House say they're still working to bring out as many Afghans and remaining Americans as possible. [ WSJ ]
Be Sure Your Tear Ducts Are In The Locked, Upright Position
You would probably like some good news after that, so please read this ABC News story about the civilian airliner crews who were sent as part of the US airlift to fly Afghan refugees from Qatar to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Here's United Airlines flight attendant Hope Williams:
"It was a relief to see the children once they made it onto the plane, even at a young age. I think they understood that they were safe." [...]
"Immediately everyone said, where are we going? We're going to Germany. Where are we going after that? The United States of America. There are a lot of smiles, especially from the children. They did speak English and were able to articulate that to the parents."
For many evacuees, it was their first time flying.
"I had an elderly lady friend in the back. And unfortunately, the seat that she was sitting in was just to two seats. She was able to sit there by herself, but towards the end, like during the flight, she laid down on the floor, it was just so uncomfortable. But that's not safe. We're not allowed to do that. So just talking to her, rubbing her back, I think that made the difference. Felt like grandma to me," Williams said.
Makes me feel all Statue of Liberty-y, and I'm not crying, YOU ARE CRYING. [ ABC News ]
Wingnuts Mad They Didn't See An Execution
Also too, sad news for wingnuts who were extremely excited about video of a man dangling from a Taliban helicopter over Kandahar: It is not the atrocity porn they hoped, or even the "Pinochet Helicopter Rides" they all yearn to give, and simply shows a Taliban guy in a harness being lowered on a cable to try — unsuccessfully — to hang a Taliban flag on a 100-meter high antenna. It is not, as a viral tweet sent by Ted Fucking Cruz claimed, the Taliban using a captured American Blackhawk helicopter to execute someone by hanging.
The tweet was all over rightwing Twitter, and I'm sure by now no amount of debunking will do much good. [ AFP Fact check ]
Dadaism Lost The War
And finally, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative explains why the US lost in Afghanistan, with a bunch of long dumb excerpts from a story by "Cockburn" first published at "Spectator World." It had nothing to do with strategy or corruption or imperial hubris or the difficulty of bringing democracy to a country riven by ethnic tensions and decades of war.
Heck no! It was Woke Culture and modern art. Cockburn ( not the progressive Andrew Cockburn, of Harpers ) writes:
America hoped that with enough half-baked social engineering in the half of Afghanistan it controlled, it would eventually be rewarded with victory, and Afghanistan would become the Holland of the Hindu Kush. On Ivy League campuses, students are taught to decry 'colonialism', but the Ivy League diplomats who sought to remake Afghanistan in Harvard's image were among the most ambitious practitioners of it in world history.
Turns out what really killed off any chance of victory was all that gender studies nonsense the US allegedly tried to impose on Afghans. We have our doubts that was really the root cause of the problem. But then there was also the unspeakable attempt to inflict Dadaism on Afghan women, who wanted none of it, supposedly, as proved by a completely context-free 44-second clip from a BBC documentary.
Instead of rattling off anecdotes, perhaps a single video clip will do the job. Dadaism and conceptual art are of dubious value even in the West, but at some point some person who is not in prison for fraud decided that Afghan women would be uplifted by teaching them about Marcel Duchamp:
Watch the video, and you can see the exact point (specifically, 31 seconds in) where the American mission in Afghanistan dies.
Now that's some smart military/political analysis. Has Tom Cotton been briefed? [ Spectator World ]
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