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We Can Still Show Strength in Afghanistan

August 19th, 2021 by dk

President Biden falsely asserted that his administration planned for every contingency. Our military withdrawal from Afghanistan is losing ground in public opinion faster than Afghan forces lost ground to the Taliban. Americans wanted our military involvement to end, but not with human remains clogging wheel wells of exiting transport planes.

What can be done at this point?

This administration has recognized that Americans are in the mood for bold solutions to longstanding problems. Our exit from Afghanistan was scripted as a bold move, ripping the band-aid off after two decades of temporary measures that never offered anything more than momentary relief.

The White House planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center by wishing the people of Afghanistan well. Their internal struggles should be settled by the people who live there, not by our American and NATO soldiers in a proxy war against Russia and religious extremism.

But the script was flipped. We’ve been chased out of Afghanistan and their so-called Civil War has already been won by the Taliban. Religious extremists will rule Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, reversing whatever was accomplished over the past 20 years.

The future is suddenly bleak or brief for anyone who helped the American crusade or for anyone without a Y chromosome. All in the first group and many in the second wish they could leave the country, hoping to continue that better life brought by Americans.

The United States of America should meet this moment boldly. We should embrace any Afghan who helped us. The State Department should negotiate with the Taliban for safe passage out of the country. Mayors across our nation should be charged with localized plans to resettle as many war refugees as each city across the nation can handle.

This ending should be on scale with the battle we fought there — 20 years and over a trillion dollars, but also this: More than 775,000 U.S. service members were deployed to Afghanistan at least once. How many of those made a friend while there? More than 18,000 Special Immigrant Visas are stuck in the bureaucratic pipeline. Include their families and the number swells to 53,000.

If we spent $50 billion for one more year, how quickly and how many Afghan families could we assimilate into American society. How much red tape could be cut? For the first time, our investment in them would also be an investment in ourselves. They will be contributing to our culture and economy as soon as they are allowed.

Fortunately, we don’t have to start this new mission from scratch. Evacuate Our Allies ( has a detailed plan to airlift tens of thousands of Afghanis seeking political asylum. No One Left Behind ( has already built a network of local human rights activists willing to help families resettle.

We fought to better people’s lives in Afghanistan. We can still do that. President Biden wanted a move of strength. It hasn’t worked out that way, but it still could.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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