Good question. The need to protect women and children from the depravity of the Taliban’s seventh-century ideology had been one of the driving forces for sustained American engagement in Afghanistan. That includes Barack Obama as well as the two Republican presidents who bookended his administration.
Now, however, the NGOs and activists encouraged by those policies to work in Afghanistan find themselves stuck in the collapse, the Washington Post reports. It takes quite a few paragraphs to get to the reason why, however:
While the administration in recent weeks has acted to accelerate the processing of SIV applicants and began airlifting applicants and their families out of Afghanistan, it has not done so for others who might be targeted by the Taliban because of their affiliation with international organizations but who are not eligible for the SIV program.
Several people involved in the evacuation effort said they were shocked by the Biden administration’s lack of preparation for the possibility that female activists and other vulnerable Afghans would be at risk and require aid — especially given how central the issue of women’s rights has been to the U.S. project in Afghanistan. It was an effort cited by successive American presidents as a justification for the U.S. presence. …
Amed Khan, a New York-based philanthropist and human rights advocate who has been working to evacuate at-risk Afghans, said that between the SIV applicants, women’s rights activists and other allies, thousands of people have “risked their lives implementing our agenda for the last 20 years.”
“I have full faith in President Biden that he will keep U.S. troops in Kabul to protect all of the 100,000 people who are on top of the Taliban kill list,” he said.
So much for that full faith:
— Pat Ward (@WardDPatrick) August 16, 2021
In some sense, the Washington Post’s angle here is almost a self parody of the old joke about media bias: End of the world comes; women, minorities hardest hit. In this case, though, this angle is justified, especially given the politics of this administration. Joe Biden pledged to choose a woman of color as his running mate about this time last year in order to emphasize his support for women’s rights and access to power for the formerly oppressed.
Apparently that only applies in the US, where the costs for such stunts are practically non-existent. In places where it matters, Joe Biden apparently couldn’t care less. His allies in these womens-rights NGOs are now “shocked” (in the Post’s words) that Biden and his administration made no provision to protect them or get them out. In any other world, that would demonstrate Biden’s actual commitment to anything other than Joe Biden. It certainly doesn’t paint a portrait of “compassion,” which the media keeps assuring us is Biden’s central calling card.
Their other allies in the Democratic Party want Biden to carve out a safe-passage corridor for our erstwhile allies in these NGOs. The Post notes that the time has pretty much passed for the US to establish that, unless we get permission from the Taliban:
“My plea is that we reestablish security at the Kabul airport and reestablish it not just for a short window to get the remaining American citizens,” but also Afghans now under mounting threat, said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), who was among the lawmakers briefed by Blinken and others in a call on Sunday morning. “That is the point of pressure right now.”
It’s unclear what control the United States has over airport operations at this stage or what the Taliban, which is commandeering government facilities and taking at least nominal control of the country’s security forces, will allow.
Just a few weeks ago, we could have imposed our will on this process. Now we’re left with the question of why we squandered that advantage, and why Biden didn’t plan for an orderly evacuation of the people who tried to implement the kind of aid that Biden claims to champion. What an utter debacle.
Addendum: Here’s my editorial commentary for Salem Radio and Townhall Review this morning on the topic of the Afghanistan collapse. I typically do one or two commentaries a week for SRN News/Townhall, so be sure to check out more from me and my colleagues at this link.