Afghan refugee controversy reveals US real nature – duplicity and hypocrisy
Published: Aug 19, 2021 08:32 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The US has ended its 20-year military occupation of Afghanistan in an extremely disgraceful and irresponsible way. Within these two decades, the Afghan people's life has not been improved. And it is foreseeable that Afghanistan this fall and winter will face a grave humanitarian disaster, including the prospect of hundreds of thousands of refugees forced to flee.

The US and some of its NATO allies have repeatedly claimed they will help Afghans who assisted their troops during their "mission" in Afghanistan. However, even if these countries keep their promise, a humanitarian disaster on such a grand scale will still be difficult to handle.

For the Afghan people, what the Biden administration has done is make things even worse. The chaotic scene at Kabul's international airport proves that the remaining US troops are not in the least prepared to control the situation in Afghanistan after their withdrawal. In the end, US military forces will take thousands of Afghan people to the US through the so-called Special Immigrant Visas program for Afghans. But the refugee problem of Afghanistan will bring endless troubles to its neighboring countries.

In the US, the issue of Afghan refugees is becoming an instrument for partisan struggle. US politicians have not treated the Afghan people's need for survival with the seriousness it deserves.

When talking about the Biden administration's policy toward Afghanistan, a recent opinion piece by Fox News, a US media outlet which is pro-Republican, said that "President Biden [has] abandoned our allies and betrayed the thousands of men and women who sacrificed everything they had in pursuit of peace." 

But in terms of whether to accept refugees from Afghanistan, Fox News was full of anti-refugee rhetoric. One of its hosts, Tucker Carlson, even compared Afghan refugees to an invading force. He said on Monday that, "If history is any guide, and it's always a guide, we will see many refugees from Afghanistan resettle in our country in coming months probably in your neighborhood. And over the next decade that number may swell to the millions. So first, we invade and then we're invaded."

In the US, even those in power say one thing but do quite another in regard to the Afghan issue. Their speech is full of benevolence and morality, showing they are eager to help those Afghans having assisted or cooperated with the US. But when discussing specific issues, such as accepting refugees, they tend to be very conservative, and only concerned about their own interests.

Judging from the US Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 Designation for Afghan Nationals released on August 2, the US may merely accept those Afghans it believed the most loyal, such as some of those working close to the US, especially interpreters for the US Army. 

It is estimated that the US will accept a few thousand Afghans and will leave the rest alone. To the more than 30 million Afghan people, the US' so-called help is essentially negligible and insignificant.

Even many Americans cannot stand such duplicity of the US. 

A netizen called Tim from South Carolina tweeted on Tuesday, "Fox News went from: 'Biden abandoned our Afghan allies' to 'why should we take in Afghan refugees' in the span of 5 hours." As of press time, the tweet received more than 70,000 engagements, including over 61,000 likes. 

The Afghan refugee crisis is, fundamentally speaking, caused by the 20-year occupation of US and NATO forces. Unfortunately, the US is shifting the responsibility to Afghanistan's neighboring countries. For instance, it asks Pakistan to open its border to accept more Afghan refugees. It fully demonstrates US hypocrisy. Reports claim that US diplomats destroyed some Afghans' passports as they prepared to evacuate. The US State Department did not respond to this. But it cannot be ruled out that those diplomats are deliberately setting obstacles for those people who have just cause to go to the US. 

Future US policy toward Afghanistan is still unclear. But Washington is likely to impose sanctions against the new Afghan government. If it takes place, it will only cause a greater humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

In the past 20 years, the US has brought enough suffering to Afghanistan. In the coming months, Afghanistan may face severe inflation and food shortages. The US government is obliged to seriously reflect on its deeds, provide assistance within its capacity for the peaceful transition of the Afghan regime and effective governance, and meanwhile avoid turning the refugee issue into an unbearable burden for the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, especially Pakistan and Iran.

The author is an expert on US politics and a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn