Kabul Airport Scene: The Great American Betrayal 

Hazem El Amin
Lebanese Writer and Journalist

The image of Kabul airport offers us a great lesson. The image of people trembling in fear, ready to hang onto a plane is the image of America. America claimed the occupation was all about values, yet now it has sold the Afghans to the Taliban.

The astonishing scene of many thousands of Afghans fleeing to Kabul airport ready to hang onto the last departing American plane after the city was handed over to the Taliban will haunt our memories for years to come. 

The hour of abandonment has arrived. And US President Joe Biden said that he alone bears responsibility for the consequences of that decision! 

The Americans came 20 years ago, overthrew the Taliban, occupied Afghanistan, established a republic alongside their occupation, and today they are leaving, knowing very well that everything will return to what it was in a previous era. Apparently, twenty years of occupation can be ended just like that, without any responsibilities towards the social and demographic base, even though the occupation was established right in their midst.

It’s okay. 

The president bears the responsibility for this step! But what does this responsibility entail?  

The images coming from Kabul airport serve as a great lesson for us. The image of Afghans trembling in fear, ready to hang onto the wing of an airplane, is the image of America. It is the image of an. claimed the occupation was all about values, yet has now sold the Afghans to the Taliban.

This withdrawal is not a culmination of defeats inflicted on US forces, as for example happened in Vietnam. This withdrawal is a betrayal committed by the whole of America. And not a betrayal of the political class they created, because they left Kabul carrying the wealth they accumulated during the twenty years of occupation. 

Rather, it is a betrayal of all those Afghans who believed in America and lived a life somewhat similar to what Washington had promised. Hundreds of thousands of people in Kabul were betrayed. 

The plane took off leaving them behind. 

The Doha negotiations did not feature the future of the orphans and the poor who were running towards the airport on that terrible day. 

The grudge the Taliban holds against its opponents has already been on display throughout the country, but in Kabul in particular. Do you understand, Mr. Biden, what it means for a woman to re-wear the burqa after believing you, after taking it off for two whole decades? 

Have you thought about the future of the Hazara (Shiite) community? Or did you leave their fate to be negotiated by the mullah regimes in Tehran and Kabul? What about the thousands of Afghans who worked in the corrupt state that was established by America in that geographic hole called Afghanistan? To say that you bear responsibility for the decision means having to answer those questions. For America presents itself as the center of the world. And to give up that role in a moment of disruption and despair, as witnessed in Kabul, entails handing over the keys to the world to those fit for the task. 

As “president of the world,” Biden failed the hundreds of thousands of poor souls who believed America to be stronger than the Taliban. This makes him a president and a bastard in the way our presidents are bastards. It is clear that arrangements were made before the all too easy occupation of the Afghan capital by the Taliban. These arrangements included guarantees to not host “Al-Qaeda” again, as well as pledges to Tehran that Kabul would not become a base of hostility towards the Islamic Republic. Perhaps the arrangements also included settlements with non-Pashtun minorities, such as Uzbeks and Tajiks. 

But it is certain that no one considered the fugitives at Kabul airport. And no one thought of the fact that half the Afghans are women. And the school curriculum was not part of the negotiations sponsored by Qatar for the return of the Taliban either. From the school curriculum the September 11 terrorists were born, Mr. Biden. And you, having saved your soldiers when you decided to withdraw, subjected hundreds of thousands of Afghans to a terrible fate, which you should have contemplated, the moment you saw the images of the crowds fleeing to the airport and swarming around the  departing planes. What did the master of the White House feel when  the scenes of the masses at Kabul airport were shown to him? 

You failed them, Mr. President. America has failed them!

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