The chaotic end of America’s failed experiment in Afghanistan was readily apparent over the past week; from the mass hysteria at Kabul’s airport to the swift takeover by the Taliban, the last throes of this war have been sad and ugly.
For days, we’ve watched politicians, media and activists point fingers, trying to assign blame. There’s plenty to go around, and it is clear the United States must learn the lessons of Afghanistan, lest it blunder again.
However, as this debate goes on, we must as Americans, as Quad-Citians, commit ourselves to helping the Afghan people who put their lives on the line to help American troops, diplomats, media and others over the course of this 20-year war.
That means opening our doors wide to the refugees who are said to number in the tens of thousands.
The U.S. has not always had a good record of welcoming the refugees fleeing war in recent years. Resistance to the Syrians fleeing the civil war there was a notable shame. But in this instance, there appears to be bipartisan agreement that Americans must help; that we have a special obligation, as the country that spearheaded the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, to provide a haven for those who now are at risk from the Taliban.
In this instance, we must not fail.
Earlier this week, World Relief Quad-Cities displayed these words on its Facebook page: “Please God, give us the courage not to look away.”
We hope Quad-Citians will keep these words in their hearts and carry them out.
World Relief Quad-Cities, the Moline-based resettlement organization, is preparing to receive refugees from Afghanistan, as it has from other countries; however, as of this writing, we were not aware of any on the way yet. The non-profit works with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, and it has a long history in the Quad-Cities of helping those fleeing persecution, privation and war.
According to reports, the Biden administration has struggled to get other countries to accept Afghan refugees, and there has been bipartisan criticism in Congress over the government’s lack of preparedness to deal with this problem. On Tuesday, however, the president authorized the use of up to $500 million to help pay for refugee needs, and the military is ramping up flights taking Afghans out of the country.
Still, there were reports Wednesday of continued chaos and Taliban crackdowns outside the Kabul airport.
In this country, we are happy to see there is some bipartisan acknowledgement in Congress that we need to play a role in resettling these refugees.
In Iowa and Illinois, there also is agreement we must help. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the other day that preparations are being made to accommodate Afghan refugees in the state. Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker said Illinois would be welcoming, too.
We don’t know how many Afghan refugees might be headed to the Quad-Cities, but we believe all of us should welcome them; we also should be prepared to help organizations, like World Relief, that are seeking to find homes and support systems for our new neighbors.
We can argue for years about the lessons of American involvement in Afghanistan. But we think we all can agree that the United States has a special responsibility to those who worked, and risked their lives, to help us for us over these past 20 years.