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Ashraf Ghani, of whom most Americans had never heard until he stopped being president of Afghanistan in one quick hurry over last weekend, has found a temporary landing spot in that home office of plutocrats in exile, the United Arab Emirates. From the New York Times:
It was a spectacular fall for a World Bank-trained technocrat who holds a doctorate from Columbia University. He is the author of a book titled “Fixing Failed States.” Instead of fixing Afghanistan during his nearly seven years in power, Mr. Ghani fled much in the same way he governed: isolated from all but a handful of advisers who are said to have departed with him. The fallout was swift as what semblance of civil government that was left in Kabul collapsed. Mr. Ghani, 72, defended his decision to leave in a social media post late on Sunday, writing, “If I had stayed, countless of my countrymen would be martyred and Kabul would face destruction.”
What Ghani took with him is a matter of some conjecture. According to Afghanistan’s ambassador to Tajikistan, Ghani fled with a truckload of cash, which Ghani vigorously denies, but the ambassador is calling Interpol on him anyway. For the moment, Ghani is one refugee who is safely away. Which is a good thing, because the wave of sympathy for those left behind and preparing to become refugees is starting to roll back to reveal the underlying xenophobia that has remained unchanged. Again, from the NYT:
An influx of migrants, they fear, may fan the embers of the far-right and populist movements that reshaped European politics after a wave of asylum seekers sought refuge from the wars in Syria and Iraq in 2015. In Germany, even before the first group of 19 Afghan refugees landed on Wednesday, the line was making the rounds in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative camp: “2015 mustn’t be repeated.” Armin Laschet, who wants to succeed Ms. Merkel as chancellor after next month’s elections, said it on Monday. A party official used the same words shortly after. And then a government minister repeated them yet again.
The United States has had some bright spots. The governors of Utah, Vermont, and Maryland all have declared themselves willing to take in refugees. Other governors also have pronounced themselves willing to assist. Wisconsin’s Tony Evers has offered up Fort McCoy outside Tomah as a facility for processing up to 30,000 refugees. In 1980, Fort McCoy was the processing point for 14,000 Cubans from the Mariel boat lift. And Guam, which was used to process refugees from the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, has stepped up again. But even there, there's reluctance. From the Guam Daily Post:
“There’s two reasons why I think the likelihood is just about zero,” Cruz said in an exclusive interview Wednesday. The primary obstacle, according to her is budgetary. “There is a lot of capacity in Qatar and Kuwait that was built because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And with everybody demobilizing from Afghanistan, all that capacity – all those buildings that were built … is a lot cheaper, and it’s easier to access,” she said. At least one U.S. military flight with more than 600 evacuees aboard has flown to Qatar. Increasing on-base populations, which an evacuation to Guam would do, requires increased spending in “life support costs,” Cruz explained. These expenses, like food and construction supplies – are simply too expensive locally.
That can fairly be called a warning shot.
(I have to believe that going from Helmand Province to Guam would be the culture shock of all time. Utah is a much better choice. It has mountains and deserts and a certain comfort with religious fervor, albeit a different religion from that practiced by its prospective guests.)
And, of course, there are the other Americans, some of whom, once the refugees become of little use as cudgels to bash the administration, will go right back to not caring whether they live or die, and to telling the rest of us that the “chaos” of the evacuation planted the U.S. thick with sleeper cells. No sooner had Utah’s Republican Governor, Spencer Cox, volunteered his state as a haven than the flying monkeys went screeching at his head. Salon culled some of the highlights.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson declared on Monday night, in a bad faith attempt to scare his audience, that the United States will accept "millions" of Afghan refugees who would start living "in your neighborhood.” The fearmongering Fox News host added: "It caused revolts, but officials kept doing it, they kept pushing radical gender politics anyway, because they could, because they were in charge of these Stone Age people they were going to educate."
Fellow Fox News host Laura Ingraham echoed Carlson's remarks. "Is it really our responsibility to welcome thousands of potentially un-vetted refugees from Afghanistan?" she rhetorically asked. "All day we heard phrases like 'we promised them.' Well, who did? Did you?” Pro-Trump pundit Charlie Kirk took a similar approach, proudly stating that President Joe Biden "wants a couple hundred thousand more Ilhan Omars to come into America to change the body politic permanently" stemming from the Taliban takeover. "We're playing checkers and [they're] playing chess," the Carlson-like clone riffed.
And outright fascist Stephen Miller leaped to the electric Twitter machine to give his bigotry another vigorous workout.
Personally, I think that, now that he’s settled in his undoubtedly luxurious hotel room in the UAE, Ashraf Ghani should act like he’s running a government in exile and take up the cause of the people he left behind, no matter where they end up. He’s going to love Provo.
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