U.S. should have had an evacuation plan for Afghan civilians and translators

Ben Recob

On April 14, 2021, President Biden announced that all remaining United States troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn by September 11, the 20 anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans. Since the beginning of the withdrawal, the Taliban has made massive military advances, capturing multiple Afghan cities and eventually capturing the capital city of Kabul. Chaos ensued as Afghan civilians and translators struggled to flee the country, flooding the Kabul airport with no prior evacuation plan to help get them out. With the Taliban in control, the future of Afghan refugees is uncertain.

While I have always supported bringing an end to the long war in Afghanistan, a collective failure of the United States government and military on a withdrawal strategy, as well as having no evacuation plan, has cost Afghan refugees their most valuable commodity: time.

Let’s begin with the Trump administration. In February 2020, President Trump and allies of NATO signed a peace agreement with the Taliban, stating that the United States would continue to withdraw troops as long as the Taliban didn’t capture any unoccupied territory. This was a huge mistake.

By compromising with the Taliban, President Trump opened the door for the terrorist organization to seize control of the country in a short amount of time. Many Republicans and conservative media outlets solely place the blame on President Biden for the Taliban takeover. However, it was the actions of President Trump and NATO a year prior that allowed the Taliban to take advantage of the situation once troops began to pull out in large numbers.

Let’s move on to the Biden administration. When President Biden announced the departure of all remaining troops from Afghanistan in April, he had no clear withdrawal or evacuation strategy in place for Afghan civilians and translators that either helped the U.S. or that solely wanted to flee the country.

This allowed for the Taliban to mutilate and execute Afghans that were in connected to the United States, such as translators, and members of the U.S. embassy. The over-pouring of Afghan civilians at the Kabul airport, desperate to leave the country, clinging onto cargo planes and falling to their deaths as they took off, is another harsh reality of the Biden administration’s failure to implement an evacuation strategy months beforehand.

I believe that if we were going to end the War in Afghanistan on a better note, we should never have made agreements with the Taliban, and we should have had an effective withdrawal and evacuation plan to safely get Afghan civilians and translators out of the country.