The American living in Kabul in the ABC News story above, should have left Afghanistan with his family months ago. Why didn't he? In his own words... "Brain worms?"
The story of Afghanistan's last remaining Jew was supposed to end last week with Zablon Simantov finally leaving the country after all these crazy, dysfunctional years. In the end though, he apparently-- at the last second-- decided not to. He's staying in Kabul under the Taliban... again. Yeah, he seems to be whacked out of his mind.
So what about the hundred or hundreds of Americans who also got "left behind?" You know Mr. and Mrs. Mertz up the street? It's not them-- or anyone like them. Mostly the Americans still in Afghanistan are Afs with dual citizenship who never could quite make up their minds to leave (like the goofball in the video up top). We'll come back to that in a moment.
First let's go to Italy... summer, 1943. When the allies invaded Sicily, most people welcomed them as liberators from the German occupation. By the end of July King Victor Emmanuel fired Mussolini and had him arrested. Italians rejoiced. By October Italy switched sides although most of the army continued supporting the Germans, who occupied their former ally. The Germans rescued Mussolini and set him up as a puppet ruler in Salò. As the Allies gained control of the whole country, Mussolini-- then seen as little more than a German collaborator-- tried to escape. He was captured by Italian partisans and executed, along with his mistress and 15-member party. (My uncle, whose unit fought its way up the peninsula from Sicily was in Milan where he saw Mussolini's corpse hanging upside down at a gas station the next day.) The fascist Minister of Defense, Rodolfo Graziani, Marquis of Neghelli, became head of state. He was eventually arrested. Many fascist collaborators fled Italy but thousands of others were summarily murdered during the summer and fall of 1945.
Going back to the founding of our own country, almost a quarter of the residents of the 13 colonies were loyalists-- collaborators with the British occupation. After the British army was defeated as many as 70,000 of them fled to Britain, Canada, Florida and the British colonies in the Caribbean. Native Americans who fought for the British-- particularly the Iroquois-- were expelled and forced to move to Canada. White loyalists who fled had much of their property expropriated and many who stayed were subjected to social stigma. No one likes a collaborator. Few Americans seem to realize that the U.S. was the occupying power in Afghanistan, brutalizing-- to put it mildly-- the population. Over 150,000 Afs were killed during the occupation, tens of thousands civilians.
Naturally, there is a lot of anger towards collaborators, which helped explain why some were willing to face near certain death to escape. OK, so let's get back to who was left behind. This morning the Washington Post reported that "Roughly 2,500 U.S. Embassy employees were among the 120,000 people the United States evacuated by air from Afghanistan, according to President Biden. But the operation left 'many of our longtime partners' behind, according to a State Department spokesperson. One person familiar with the matter said they included about 2,000 U.S. Embassy contractors and immediate family members, some of whom who had worked at the embassy for more than a decade. The State Department declined to comment on that number." The report never mentions the world collaborators. It's such an ugly word, often describing unpatriotic opportunists, traitors and cowards. Another prominent collaborator gave his name as a synonym: quisling, named for Vidkun Quissling, a Norwegian fascist who ran the puppet government during the German occupation of his country. After the war, he was tried, found guilty of murder, high treason and embezzlement and executed in 1945.
Biden described the operation as an “extraordinary success,” but thousands of Afghans considered vulnerable and eligible for evacuation fell through the cracks. They include American University of Afghanistan students and graduates, applicants for special immigrant visas and members of Afghanistan’s Special Forces who fought closely with the United States.
With the departure of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, many Afghans who felt threatened by the Taliban takeover now say they are in greater danger.
Among the tens of thousands who managed to reach the airport and get on planes out of the country were 5,500 Americans, thousands of citizens and diplomats of U.S. allies, and thousands of Afghans who worked for the United States as interpreters, translators or other roles, according to Biden.
Planning for the evacuation began weeks before Kabul fell to the Taliban in mid-August, but the effort began to stumble almost as soon as it started.
U.S. officials did not expect Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country so quickly and for Kabul’s security forces to collapse, leaving the civilian side of the airport unguarded.
Ghani’s departure as the Taliban entered Kabul on Aug. 15 is “really what threw a wrench into the whole thing,” said a person familiar with evacuation planning.
[This is either complete bullshit or incompetence even beyond what anyone should expect.]
“We made every effort to know who we were dealing with and what the numbers were, making sure we had proper resources on the ground to try to assist them. But the whole situation kind of spiraled into chaos,” said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The airlift is now complete, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, but other evacuation efforts are ongoing. “We’ve gotten many out, but many are still there,” he said. “We will keep working to help them. Our commitment to them has no deadline.”
...Ian Bickford, president of American University of Afghanistan, said efforts to relocate students, graduates and faculty members continue. “It has becomes a more gradual and incremental effort, but we are in it for the long haul,” he said. “And we continue to appeal for U.S. support.”
Asked about the American University students, the State Department spokesman said he couldn’t “speak to specific cases … for privacy and other considerations.” He said the U.S. evacuation was aimed at addressing “the needs of those most at risk, including women and girls, journalists, members of religious and ethnic minorities, and others.”
...An Afghan Special Forces officer was on the list of people to evacuate but wasn’t able to get inside the military side of the airport. He said U.S. forces tried to extract him and a few hundred other Afghan commandos, but the logistics repeatedly fell apart.
“The Americans would call us and tell us to gather here. And then they would say, ‘No, that is the wrong place. Go to another location.’ And then they would say, ‘Come back tomorrow,’ ” he said.
“Of course I’m angry. We were on the front line for the United States in this war,” he said. “They told us you will be the best of the best in the Afghan army, and now look.”
When Kabul fell, the officer said, he did not want to flee. “I called my [foreign] sources and told them, if you support us, we can fight against the Taliban in Kabul. We have the training, we have the ability, we can be the resistance.”
But he said there was no response to his offers. As the Taliban tightened its grip on his neighborhood, he fled to a friend’s house and then, a few days later, to another home. The night the last U.S. evacuation plane took off, he and a friend went to watch the Taliban gunfire from the roof.
“He said to me: ‘Everything is finished. Now what?’ ”
After his experience of the past two weeks, he said, he can’t imagine trusting the United States enough to partner with its military again.
The U.S. Embassy employee said the silence from his longtime employer is unnerving. “We are still waiting to see what they will do for us,” he said. “We don’t know, exactly.”
But while the withdrawal has left him “heartbroken,” he said, he remains proud of his former employment.
“It was not a mistake,” he said. “I will never say that. Even if the Taliban threaten to kill me, I wouldn’t. No one has helped me the way the Americans have.”