First Things First

Dr. Malcolm Cross

Republicans are busily heaping abuse—much of it justified—on President Biden for the fiasco in
Afghanistan. Some Democrats are joining in the feeding frenzy, but most are saying we’ll have time
later on to analyze the situation and assign blame where blame is due. But for the time being we must
rescue as many Americans and Afghans as possible from the unfolding tragedy in Kabul. The Democrats
are right.

To save as many lives as possible from the horror descending on Afghanistan, President Biden
must first of all eliminate his self-imposed deadline of August 31 for the withdrawal of U. S. forces. In
this instance he is being disingenuous, to put it mildly. He claims the withdrawal is mandated by the
agreement negotiated between the Taliban and the Trump administration, but that is nonsense. The
initial agreement called for withdrawal by May 1, and Biden has already extended it. Moreover, Biden
has proven himself perfectly willing to modify or reverse other Trumpian decisions: He’s reversed
Trump’s decisions to abandon both the Paris climate accords and the agreement to regulate Iran’s
development of nuclear power and weapons. He should let the Taliban know that America doesn’t
leave until all Americans and our Afghan allies have left.

Secondly, Biden should prepare to send in more troops, if necessary, to facilitate the rescue of
Americans and our Afghan helpers. Indeed, no less an authority than Leon Panetta, former Democratic
congressman and former CIA director and Defense Secretary in the Obama Administration, has raised
this contingency. It’s perfectly true that the Taliban has promised cooperation in the evacuation. But
it’s also blocked access for many Afghans to the airport from which America is flying refugees out of the
country, and it’s condemned Biden’s perfectly justified and successful attack on ISIS in retaliation for
killing 13 American service personnel and injuring about 200 more Americans and Afghans. If the
Taliban dislikes the prospect of more American troops overstaying Biden’s original deadline, then it
should do what it can to help America complete its rescue mission. But Biden should prepare to have
our armed forces do all the heavy lifting of evacuation alone, if need be, while using all necessary force
against the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and anyone else who stands in our way.

Thirdly, Biden should be expansive and generous in determining who gets rescued. Our
obligation to rescue American citizens and our Afghan allies—the guides, translators, etc.—and their
families is both obvious and absolute. But we must recognize that there are many more Afghans in
danger, largely because of America’s involvement in Afghanistan over the past 20 years. One such
group includes women judges, for whom an association of women judges in America is advocating
assistance. Indeed, women in general are in danger, not only because many have served in the
government or have attained other professional achievements the Taliban would never have tolerated,
but simply because they can read and write, offenses for which the penalties in Islamofascist-controlled
territories include persecution and dealth. The Taliban has promised amnesty to Afghan soldiers and
civil servants—presumably including women—who had been loyal to the deposed regime, and it has
pledged to respect women’s rights as well. But its pledge of tolerance is already being belied by reports
of widespread instances of suppression of women and massacres of many women and men loyal to the
deposed regime. Once the world’s attention shifts from Afghanistan to other issues and trouble spots,
the abuses and deaths may well increase. So Biden must cut through, or even eliminate, whatever red
tape is slowing down the evacuation process.

Fourth, not only must we be prepared to rescue thousands of Afghan refugees, we must
likewise be prepared to settle as many as necessary in America. True, we can enlist the aid of other countries willing to provide sanctuary. But no country is better suited than the United States to absorb
large numbers of refugees, and given America’s leading role in prosecuting the war in Afghanistan and
trying to prop up an ultimately failed government, we are especially obligated to accept as refugees
those whose allegiance to our client government has put them in danger of repression and death.
Besides, we must remember we are a nation of immigrants. Most of us—including the so-called “Native
Americans,” who are descended from prehistoric Asians, but with the obvious exception of most African
Americans, whose ancestors were brought here against their will as slaves—are either immigrants
ourselves or descended from immigrants who came here in search of a better life. How can we deny to
them the opportunities we and/or our ancestors seized, especially when we helped create the
circumstances of the peril they’re now in.

These tasks must all be performed immediately, or at least as soon as possible. But just as the
desire to finger point should not deter us from the heavy lifting of humanitarianism, so too must the
discharge of our humanitarian obligations not deter us from asking necessary questions concerning this
unmitigated fiasco. It’s perfectly proper to ask how our intelligence could be so wrong, or why Biden
seems so obdurate in making such bad decisions as arbitrary deadlines or overreliance on the Taliban.
But Biden’s enemies, especially in the GOP, should be very careful. After all, it was Trump, not Biden,
who first negotiated with the Taliban, considered it trustworthy, and supported a withdrawal with a
deadline even earlier than Biden’s. More importantly, it was former President Bush—a—ahem—Republican, who first launched our war in Afghanistan and transformed its purpose
from the perfectly justified goal of destroying Al Qaeda and killing Bin Laden to the fool’s errand of
“nation building.” We’ve got plenty of questions to ask, and plenty of people, both Democrats and
Republicans—have plenty to answer for.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole

1 Comment

  1. The entire Republican party supports the fact that they committed an insurrection tried to overturn an election and install their own King. I think the Republican party needs to regroup apologize and give democracy another shot. But they have no right to say anything until they do.

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