President Biden has announced that he will withdraw all American military troops from Afghanistan on September 11th. Although I question his choice of that particular date, I think it is the right move. However, it is necessary in withdrawing those troops to protect those Afghani civilians and military who have helped America in its efforts. To leave those people behind is to insure their capture, torture and death.
The Federalist posted an article yesterday detailing some of the current situation.
The article reports:
During our nearly 20-year presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. military and countless government personnel have been aided by Afghan interpreters. These brave men and women bridged the gap between Americans and Afghans, often patrolling, and sometimes even fighting, alongside our forces.
Because of their selfless service to American personnel, the Taliban consider interpreters arch traitors. According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, “at least thousands” of Afghan interpreters have been killed in retaliation by the Taliban and other criminal elements.
The United States created the Special Immigrant Visa program in 2006 to grant threatened interpreters from Iraq and Afghanistan refugee status and ultimately citizenship. The SIV program has failed to deliver the safety it promised, however, as evidenced by the host of critical gaps identified in recent reports from Brown University, the Truman Center, and the Department of State’s Office of the Inspector General.
Currently, a backlog of 18,800 applications of Afghan translators awaits processing. Rather than the nine-month processing period promised, applications have taken an average of 658 days to process, putting translators and their families at unnecessary, continued risk. The Washington Post estimates that around 1,000 Iraqi and Afghan interpreters have been killed while awaiting their visas.
Numerous interpreters whose lives are imperiled have been unable to apply for — or were rejected from — the SIV program. Many are unable to locate their employers to supply the necessary proof of employment. Others have been denied because the application makes untenable demands on Afghans who live under wartime constraints.
The article concludes:
Maj. Thomas Schueman is among other veterans and service members making sincere appeals for their former interpreters. Schueman’s interpreter “Zack,” is unable to apply to the SIV program because his former contracting agency cannot be reached to provide proof of employment.
Zack has previously been identified by the Taliban for his work with the Marines. He says the local Taliban “are threatening [him] all the time.” Schueman considers assisting Zack a way of honoring his “lifelong contract” of “service to [his] troops.”
Miervaldis reports that No One Left Behind has recently received thousands of e-mails and Facebook messages regarding interpreters concerned about their SIV status. As the Taliban step up violent attacks on government forces, the targeting of interpreters will likely increase.
Rather than allowing our allies to stand by in peril as we address decades of failures in our SIV program, we must grant our interpreters asylum with haste. Neglecting to protect those who assisted us would be a moral failure, as well as a stinging blow to those who fought alongside our Afghan allies. It could also have resounding national security implications should we look to forge local alliances in future conflicts.
We need to make sure that all of the interpreters get out of Afghanistan before our troops leave. To leave them behind would be a stain on America forever.