Follow us on social

2021-08-19t195826z_771805846_rc2j8p9g2idx_rtrmadp_3_afghanistan-conflict-germany-returning-evacuee-scaled

Four steps Biden can take now to get evacuees out quickly

Now is not the time for bureaucracy or delay. The United States will only get one opportunity to get this right.

Analysis | Asia-Pacific

President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan ended an unsustainable U.S. military intervention with no end in sight. Over the last two decades of the war in Afghanistan countless Afghans assisted the American mission by working as interpreters and in civil society and human rights. 

Right now, Washington is undertaking a massive evacuation of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, special immigrant visa applicants (SIVs), and other refugees with priority statuses. Kabul’s airport only has one runway and the Taliban have set up checkpoints outside some of its gates and along routes to the airport. Now is not the time for bureaucracy or delay. The United States will only get one opportunity to evacuate as many vulnerable people as possible. Below find four steps the Biden administration can take immediately to accomplish this goal. 

Establish a through line between U.S. government agencies and civil society. There are several organizations that have worked around the clock for months on the issue of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) and refugees with priority statuses. These organizations are staffed with subject-matter experts who have continuous contact with at-risk individuals and often have significant military or government experience. The Pentagon and Department of State should take advantage of this resource through an organized joint effort. It is also critical that information from U.S. government agencies is distributed through an established pipeline. Ad hoc releases of information and rumor mills have only induced panic. 

Secure the airport. With the Taliban in control of Kabul it is increasingly difficult to secure the airport and its immediate surroundings. Nevertheless, a more orderly process would decrease chaos and entry points could be made more efficient to avoid trapping vulnerable individuals who are turned away or asked to wait and find themselves stuck in limbo between airport gates and Taliban checkpoints. Increasing consular staff and services inside the airport will also help. 

Stop fixating on the paperwork. There should not be reports of C-17s departing from Kabul half filled. A fixation on prioritizing certain categories of evacuees over others, minutiae of paperwork, and whether an Afghan national is in contact with a U.S. based organization is slowing down the evacuation process. U.S. soldiers are not trained to serve as customs officials. A minimal set of details should be verified and then individuals should be evacuated to a third country. Details can be worked out in third countries and individuals who do not qualify for entry into the United States can be referred to the UNHCR or third countries. President Biden himself appeared to endorse this approach in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos when he said, “I had a meeting today for a couple hours in the Situation Room just below here. There are Afghan women outside the gate. I told 'em, ‘Get 'em on the planes. Get them out. Get them out. Get their families out if you can.’"

Use backdoor diplomacy where possible. The Taliban have set-up checkpoints, discharged their weapons, and harassed and beat individuals attempting to make their way to the airport. The United States has limited control over these actions, but keeping the communication lines open could prove critical to preventing the situation from deteriorating even more. A clear message should be delivered to the Taliban that slowing down the evacuation is not in their interests.

A boy is processed through an Evacuee Control Checkpoint (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan August 18, 2021. Picture taken August 18, 2021. U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo
Analysis | Asia-Pacific
Will Michigan ‘uncommitted’ disaster wake Biden up on Gaza?

Activist Layla Elabed speaks during an uncommitted vote election night gathering as Democrats and Republicans hold their Michigan presidential primary election, in Dearborn, Michigan, U.S. February 27, 2024. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Will Michigan ‘uncommitted’ disaster wake Biden up on Gaza?

QiOSK

A protest vote in Michigan against President Joe Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza dramatically exceeded expectations Tuesday, highlighting the possibility that his stance on the conflict could cost him the presidency in November.

More than 100,000 Michiganders voted “uncommitted” in yesterday’s presidential primary, earning 13.3% of the tally with most votes counted and blasting past organizers’ goal of 10,000 protest votes. Biden won the primary handily with 81% of the total tally.

keep readingShow less
Finlandize Ukraine
File:Finland and Ukraine flags 20220613.jpg - Wikipedia

Finlandize Ukraine

Europe

The Russian conquest of Avdiivka is unlikely to alter the war’s basic realities. Although delays in the delivery of aid to Ukraine have raised Russian hopes, no meaningful changes on the battlefield are near. The Russians cannot drive to Kyiv; the Ukrainians cannot eject the invaders.

The first phase of the war in Ukraine is drawing to a close. Both sides are coming closer to acknowledging what has been clear to the rest of the world for quite some time: the current stalemate is unlikely to be broken in any significant way. This round of the war is going to end more-or-less along the current front lines.

keep readingShow less
Ukraine's tragedies: A 'good deal' for some war supporters

A Ukrainian serviceman stands at his position in a trench at a front line on the border with Russia, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Sumy region, Ukraine January 20, 2024. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukraine's tragedies: A 'good deal' for some war supporters

Europe

For a conflict discussed in starkly moralistic terms, the ways the Ukraine war is talked about by its most enthusiastic Western supporters can be remarkably cynical about the human carnage involved.

“Aiding Ukraine, giving the money to Ukraine is the cheapest possible way for the U.S. to enhance its security,” Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief of the Economist, recently told the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. “The fighting is being done by the Ukrainians, they’re the people who are being killed.”

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest