The shadow of Vietnam has been hanging over the war in Afghanistan for years. Few parallels are as stark as the impossible task of getting out without abandoning local partners to an advancing enemy.
In 1975, although many were left behind, over 100,000 Vietnamese who had worked with America were evacuated to the American island of Guam in the Western Pacific. Once there, and safe, they were housed in camps until their visas were processed and they could settle in the U.S.
That’s exactly what a number of lawmakers are now pushing for, saying the plan to process the Afghan visas at the embassy in Kabul will never be fast enough, and the interpreters and their families need to be immediately evacuated to a safe place for processing, even suggesting Guam as the place to do it.
On June 4, a bipartisan group of congress men and women wrote a letter to the White House, stating: “The current SIV process will not work. It is clear that the process will not be rectified in time to help the over 18,000 applicants who need visas before our withdrawal. Our bipartisan working group has concluded that we must evacuate our Afghan friends and allies immediately.”
Forty-six years ago, President Ford formed an interagency task force to handle the mass evacuations, and allocated $300 million to fund the efforts. Today, the Pentagon has drawn up plans for the evacuation of Afghan interpreters and their families. But it needs the approval from President Biden to act on them.