They watch. They wait. Now caught behind enemy lines, thousands of people in Afghanistan are being scattered about the earth this morning in a helter-skelter U.S. effort to rescue its citizens and allies. In record numbers, the American people want to put an end to this long, lost war, but a badly bungled exit is hampering those efforts.
Despite a speech by the president ensuring that “each and every” American who wants to come home – along with our Afghan allies — will be brought to U.S. shores, there appears a great divide between those words and reality. Indeed, political pundits wondered aloud on national cable news networks last evening whether President Biden was lying, lost in space, or perhaps both.
Leaving No-one Behind?
While the American media tries to connect the dots between Biden’s promises and videos showing utter chaos on the ground in Kabul, there is a smattering of evacuation reports worth noting this morning. The preponderance of news is that U.S. forces have evacuated at least 5,700 people from Afghanistan in the last 24 hours. Official word finally seeped out about three U.S. Army CH-47 choppers that aided the escape of 169 Americans located just outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport. The rescue was made earlier this week after the group was stopped at the airport gates for several days and turned away by the Taliban. U.S. officials have been loathed to admit ongoing U.S. military operations outside the airport for fear of reigniting the 20-year conflict.
A statement released yesterday by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas signaled German willingness to play a part in the rescue efforts, “Germany and its international partners are focused on a goal to evacuate as many people from Kabul as is possible under the very difficult circumstances.” Ramstein Air Base in Germany is among those rushing to prepare for an onslaught of evacuees. In addition, Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, says it will allow Afghanistan evacuation flights to “make use” of their transit facilities.
Thus, for the time being, it seems that U.S. allies are slowly but surely coming alongside the U.S. evacuation effort – but their lateness to the game appears to signal their distaste for such a last-minute operation. The American people – in overwhelming numbers – have been desperate to close this ugly chapter in U.S. history but may not be aware that the Biden Administration has had to ramp up U.S. military presence in the messy Afghan theatre. Nearly 6,000 U.S. troops are now on the ground, according to the latest from Defense Department officials.
In the masterpiece tragicomedy by Samuel Beckett, two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, watch and wait for the length of the play for a man named Godot, who never comes. As thousands of Americans and allies hope and pray this morning to be rescued from the hands of the terrorist organization Taliban – one wonders if they will be saved or, like the protagonists of Beckett’s famed play, will be left waiting for someone who never comes.