What now?

We are leaving Afghanistan quickly, and I predict the Taliban will soon be in control of much of the country, and that a brutal civil war will break out among the Taliban forces, what remains of the Afghan Army, and multiple ethnic or tribal militias. Afghans that assisted American and NATO forces will be in danger, as will journalists, educators, musicians, actors, and government officials that represent freedoms that clash with the Taliban way of thinking. What should America and our allies do now?

Here are some ideas:

Now – this week – begin flying those who helped our troops for so long out of Afghanistan. Families too. If we do not soon take care of them, the Taliban will, and we will “own” that horror.

Welcome other Afghans who must leave their country to ours and encourage the same among our allies that fought with us in Afghanistan. These are hardworking, talented people who will benefit our society and economy.

Ensure that Kabul International Airport and the diplomatic area of Kabul remain open. If the Taliban or civil war closes the former, the latter will close within weeks. This will take some number of allied troops and defensive means, and the U.S. must be a key player.

Protect independent journalism from and about Afghanistan. Without it, we will soon hear less and less about what is happening, and the Afghan people will soon hear little other than what the Taliban-controlled influence machine puts out. We should increase Voice of America broadcasts using every means possible, and partner with non-governmental organizations that overwatch human rights to keep a focus on the situation in the country.

Pull out all stops to listen to, watch, infiltrate, and target terrorist groups that will march back into Afghanistan, specifically al Qaida and Islamic State. They seek a safer safe haven to plan and train. We should make it not so.

Attempt to work with Russia and China (and even Pakistan and Iran) to keep a lid on the upcoming civil war: none of us have a national interest in a horrific war, nor in the export of terror yet again from Afghanistan.

Finally, don’t forget or blame our soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen that fought courageously in Afghanistan over the past two decades. They went to a faraway place, served with respect and honor, and protected us at home. Many came home with physical, emotional, and mental wounds – it is now our time to serve them.

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