No more aid to Afghanistan until we get our people out

The Afghan people are suffering. Widows are starving; women and children are contained, constrained, controlled, and restricted; the elderly are dying of hunger and cold; and those who bravely speak out risk being tortured to death. Our hearts are broken and rightly bleed for them. I’ve been there, worked on behalf of the people, made dear friends, and keep them in my prayers.

Afghanistan is a country of inefficient agriculture, severe terrain, harsh winters, devastating weather events, frequent earthquakes, crumbling infrastructure, constant war, and bad governance. Half of her people are hungry and half of the hungry are in dire shape. The government has no liquidity and no functional structure for raising any. They do need our help.

The United Nations is calling for the biggest assistance package—in the neighborhood of $5 billion—that the world has ever seen. Last September, one day after the UN obtained pledges of $1.2 billion from donor countries, the Taliban leadership asked for even more.

In August, we ineffectively pulled out of the country, leaving behind a mess and a country pregnant with misery. We also kept our allies in the dark and abandoned many of our own to the tender mercies of their most implacable enemy. We surrendered tens of billions worth of equipment, supplies, and infrastructure to an invading army of human scorpions. If it had been up to me, and we couldn’t reverse our departure, we’d have sent multiple bombs over the horizon destroying it all, as well as the Presidential Palace.

Image: The Taliban in the Presidential Palace. YouTube screen grab.

But it wasn’t, and we didn’t. However, a month after this pullout, we proudly blared that we were increasing our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan by $64 million. This week, the White House announced an additional $308 million, plus COVID-19 vaccines.

I say no. No more no-strings-attached assistance to Afghanistan. Not one penny.

If the Taliban want our money, that we’re generally happy to give, they can provide a threat-free environment so donor nations can fly in and bring out all the foreigners and helpful Afghans still stuck there. We need to retrieve our citizens, our permanent residents, our special immigrant visa applicants, and all others who we know assisted us in our 20-year-long folly trying to impose an ethical government and democratic processes on an uneducated generation and historically warlord-ruled people.

Our humanitarian endeavors need to be focused first on our people and getting them out. That could be accomplished in relatively short order. We have the lists of our staff, and the staff of American institutions that worked there for the betterment of the Afghans.

Humanitarianism is noble but it does not need to be a blind nobility. If the Taliban rulers don’t like this deal, then they can bloody well sell the planes, tanks, and other material on the global market. That should bring in sufficient billions to cover their needs for several years.

Anony Mee is the nom de blog of a retired public servant.

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