Abandonment of Afghan interpreters is an issue of life or death 

Abandonment of Afghan interpreters is an issue of life or death 

American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford expressed “deep disappointment” the White House isn’t offering a better plan to evacuate interpreters, family members and other Afghan allies who have served alongside U.S. forces during the last 20 years of war in Afghanistan.  

The White House announced on Thursday the United States’ military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on Aug. 31, putting the end to a “forever war” in sight. However, that does not go far enough to protect  the 18,000 Afghan interpreters who are still waiting for approval of their Special Immigrants Visas — a promise the U.S. made to them in return for their service.  

Earlier, the White House said they would house the interpreters and others in a third country pending their visa approval. The American Legion does not believe this action will ensure the safety of all the Afghanistan allies, due to the number and time remaining before the pullout. 

There is a precedent of such a mass evacuation that the U.S. could emulate in this scenario.  

In 1975, the United States evacuated about 130,000 Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon. Most refugees were held temporarily in Guam before going to the U.S. as their visas were processed. More recently, in 1996, the U.S. evacuated thousands of Kurds at the end of the Iraqi Kurdish Civil War, with a stopover in Guam. 

Calling the Taliban “the enemy of all human rights,” and welcoming an end to U.S. involvement in 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan, Oxford said the withdrawal must be conducted in an honorable and orderly manner and that the current pace of withdrawal is falling short on these counts.  

“Abandonment of those who assisted us is literally an issue of life or death,” Oxford said. “Any veteran who has worked with Afghan interpreters will tell you how valuable these brave heroes were to our mission there.”  

Their service alongside American forces has made them — along with their families — targets for retribution by the Taliban as the militant group gains ground across Afghanistan.  

“It is a moral imperative that we offer them immediate and safe passage away from the enemy and to the United States,” Oxford added. “If we abandon such friends, how could we expect any assistance by potential allies in future missions?” 

Comments

The article on Afghan interpreters was informative and very disturbing. I'm wondering where the rest of the story is, there was no conduit/method outlined for people to help with this. Just a quick truncated ending to a brief overview of what will apparently become a tragic collateral event in a hastily cobbled up exit.
Submitted by oregonian1962 : Jul 8, 2021 5:16pm

Agree. Appreciate the awareness, but no mention of what anyone can do to help; like an American Legion GoFundMe page...
Submitted by marine0802 : Jul 8, 2021 5:29pm

What can we as an American Legion family do about this? Our AL family would have been a lot smaller if it wasn't for the brave linguists in AFG.
Submitted by a2112x20 : Jul 8, 2021 6:04pm

I was in SE Asia in 1975 when we pulled out of Vietnam and Laos.. When you look back at what happened to the people who were our allies and that we abandoned, we should be ashamed. We also should have learned a lesson from those tragedies. WE MUST DO BETTER THIS TIME. Don't abandon the people, we brought into our war, to the enemy.
Submitted by mikelburton : Jul 8, 2021 6:11pm

I was just going to comment on the US Government's abandonment of the South Vietnamese allies that were promised asylum in the USA but you beat me to it!
Submitted by dstemont : Jul 9, 2021 5:19am

Thank you for bringing up this important issue. I pray that it will be accomplished in record time. Our previous records in Iraq and Syria were poor. Gene Katzman
Submitted by geno688 : Jul 9, 2021 3:17pm