Monday marks 100 days of hell for my colleagues in the Afghan National Army. I trained them in Afghanistan as an education advisor in 2010 and 2011, although some were in my class at the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas before and after that time. Some were civilian contract interpreters or professors of the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, some military professors and others were pilots, commandos and students of the military academy.
I am working on the cases of over 700 hidden Afghans. The 60 to 100 hours of unpaid work required is a liquid that fills every corner of my time. If I don’t do this job, there really isn’t anyone else who will because there is no alternative available and these innocent lives are at stake. I only work on related person cases. in the US Air Force who are in my slice of the universe, but I am inundated daily with calls for help from dozens of other desperate families. I can’t help them, but they deserve to be evacuated to safety just as much as everyone else on my list.
“Dozens” of soldiers’ families still in Afghanistan, Pentagon says
Afghan evacuations are not something I was trained for, prepared for, or expected to be involved in – the crisis was imposed on me as the US military advisor to special immigrant visa applicants. I am no longer an employee of the US government, but a full time scholarship student (my areas of interest are international law and diplomacy in Islamic societies) working 4 work-study jobs for my university. I shouldn’t be the government’s plan, and yet I am.
The crisis created by the abrupt withdrawal of the United States without a robust and detailed evacuation plan for all SIV applicants and their dependents does not take into account the impact on American veterans at all. The costs are significant: we are shredded, we have no more money and we lack hope. I am a graduate student. I should focus on the commitments I made (school and my job), not trying to fill in the gaps for the government of the most powerful and capable country on the planet. The Veterans Coalition is an ad hoc team of nonprofit organizations made up of volunteers on the edge of human limits. We are suffering because we do the heavy lifting – compiling the required documents, entering them on endless spreadsheets – none of which are formatted the same, responding to Afghan questions, panic and legitimate emergencies. We’re resilient in our problem solving – it’s a hybrid of the American way (taking responsibility) of doing things and the Afghan way of doing things (finding workarounds when the system fails) .
While this hybrid is a testament to all the beautiful parts of human behavior (compassion, creativity), it is a damning condemnation of a system gone awry – mediocre men did damage because they didn’t care. no respect for international legal standards and, even more worrying, for humanity. the rights issues behind them. There is no acceptable loss of life, and especially not because we were simply not motivated to ensure the safety of the people we put directly at risk. From an ethical standpoint, we are hooked and we know better than to design hellish landscapes and recklessly risk lives, whether they are Afghan allies or American veterans.
US urged to help more flee Taliban-ruled Afghanistan
The dominant approach of the US government, both the Trump administration and the Biden administration, has not been courageous, responsible or honorable. He just chewed innocent people and spit them out, mutilating American and Afghan lives. It is as if we have voluntarily chosen to feed terrorists like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Haqqani network, Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Tayba. Even ISIS benefits from this narrative that we have created – one of meddling, one of damage, one of exploitation for enrichment by a private company or the promotional potential of a male military officer. We have a lot to answer – but it shouldn’t be a blood debt of American veterans and it is certainly not appropriate or acceptable to abandon our Afghan allies. We promised to bring them out and we risk low-intensity genocide if we don’t keep that promise.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) enshrines the rights of all people, by virtue of their birth, to security, migration, asylum, and freedom of movement. These standards were set by the world in the aftermath of the Holocaust of WWII. The aim was to protect human life to ensure that genocide would not threaten the survival of populations and that another world war could be avoided. There are many laws that support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the United States has made no effort to comply with these standards or to recognize the grounds and commitments enshrined in them.
The burden of the evacuation should not be on the shoulders of America’s veterans, and America must muster the political will to clean up the mess we made – it won’t improve by ignoring it and we can’t. not allow us more blood on our hands.
Lark S. Escobar is both an international educator and a university student, interested in genocide prevention, cultural memory, religious heritage, human rights, international law, terrorism and security studies. human in the MENA region, Central Asia and South Asia. She has taught in seven countries in higher education settings, including the creation and implementation of an American Diploma in English and Culture at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan where she was an Academic Advisor, Gender and Culture, leading the English Department at NATO Headquarters and designing and conducting professional training for university teachers and secondary educators throughout the Middle East.
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