The Next Afghan-Refugee Crisis Is Right Here in the U.S.

The night before the midterm elections, Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, addressed a packed room in the basement of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. The topic was billed as “Common Sense and Strategy in Foreign Policy.” For an hour, Sullivan held forth on a host of topics, including Ukraine, Taiwan, digital clean energy, and Iran. For the last 15 minutes, he took questions. When this wide-ranging tour of American foreign policy concluded, I felt as though I’d witnessed an episode of mass amnesia: Afghanistan wasn’t mentioned once.

America has a long, disastrous history of forgetting when it comes to Afghanistan. Abandoning the country to Islamic radicals in the 1990s after its war with the Soviets; deprioritizing our own war after 9/11 so we could pivot to Iraq—this willful forgetting has, again and again, bred disaster. This played out most recently last year, when the collapse of the Afghan government surprised many senior officials in the U.S. government. Today, this pattern of forgetting is poised to repeat. Without congressional action, the tens of thousands of Afghans we evacuated to the United States may be deported in the coming year, and very few in Washington seem to be talking about it. The cost of this apathy will be a second Afghan evacuation, equally disastrous, this time played out in reverse, with our allies shipped back to the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan they fled…

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