McClaughry: Afghanistan collapse, Vermont opportunity

By John McClaughry

The unfolding human and political tragedy in Afghanistan was, sadly, predictable from the day — Feb. 29, 2020 — that the self-styled Great Deal Maker Donald Trump, bypassing the Afghan government, entered into a sham “peace agreement” with the Taliban, then pressured the Afghan government to release 5,000 imprisoned Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists.

The Taliban smiled and nodded, and went on preparing to reimpose their seventh century version of Salafi Islam on the suffering people of Afghanistan. The catastrophe was dramatically accelerated by President Joe Biden’s shocking incompetence in abruptly ordering U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, removing our contractors who kept the Afghan air force flying to discourage Taliban assaults, and simply walking away from our multibillion dollar Bagram Air Base. Soon after, the Taliban raised their black flag of terror over our vacated Embassy in Kabul.

John McClaughry

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Now, tens of thousands of Afghan interpreters, translators and cultural advisors who stood with, and often fought the Taliban with, U.S soldiers and Marines are desperately trying to escape from lethal Taliban retribution. These friends of America are in harm’s way because our perpetually constipated State Department makes them fight through a 14-step, multiyear vetting process to qualify for a Special Immigrant Visa created specifically to get them out. Meanwhile the Taliban are going door-to-door in some cities looking for “terps,” and when they find them, they butcher them (300 victims known so far).

For the past five years I have contributed to an organization called No One Left Behind ( It was formed by American Afghan War veterans to bring these brave allies out from Afghanistan and get them settled here in safety. NOLB recently linked up with another of my favorite organizations, Spirit of America ( to raise millions of dollars for this vital project.

In the past year members of Congress of both parties have awakened to the emerging disaster by creating thousands of additional SIV visa slots. Rep. Peter Welch and Sen. Pat Leahy have commendably gone into overdrive to get as many terps out as possible.

After disingenuously explaining that he was unable to undo Trump’s fatuous peace deal, President Biden has found $100 million to help them and their families to integrate into American life. The problem now is that with U.S. and allied forces no longer in control of Kabul, thousands of the remaining SIV applicants can’t get past Taliban checkpoints to a place where American planes can fly them out.

History will apportion the blame for this inglorious collapse. Right now there’s little Vermonters can do to rescue our allies and salvage our country’s honor, aside from contributing to NOLB and SoA, but we can seize this unfortunate opportunity to do something here at home that we can be proud of for years to come.

Last week Gov. Phil Scott advised the State Department that Vermont was “ready, willing, and able” to welcome Afghans fleeing Taliban terror to become tomorrow‘s Vermonters. It was a good and noble thing to do to repay these brave people for their support of Americans and civilization in their own country.

Vermont has long had a deserved reputation for a strong civil society — the network of civic associations that do so much to support and enrich our everyday lives. Now is the time for them to answer Gov. Scott’s call to create a welcoming environment for men and women who risked so much for our country’s support of civilization in theirs.

Vermont’s State Refugee Office is headed by Scott’s newly appointed director, Tracy Dolan. It’s her job to assist refugees to adapt to life in our state and ultimately become loyal and self-supporting citizens.

But it’s not enough to set up a government office to deliver services. Director Dolan, backed by the governor, needs to mobilize our institutions of civil society to welcome and assist these Afghan friends of America — refugee priority No. 1. That would be our churches, fraternal societies, town governments, business and labor groups, charitable organizations, political parties, and especially veteran’s organizations. The American Legion’s national commander. Bill Oxford, has told Legionnaires that “we must not abandon our allies. We must honor the promise we made them.”

Just as Vermonters answered President Abraham Lincoln’s call for soldiers to save the Union, and pulled together after the 1927 Flood and Tropical Storm Irene, we have the opportunity to write another proud chapter in our state’s history, starting now.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Images courtesy of U.S. Army and John McClaughry

24 thoughts on “McClaughry: Afghanistan collapse, Vermont opportunity

  1. Sheesh John–WHERE are we going to HOUSE these Refugees? I’m sure they will, like the rest of Vermonters TRYING to find affordable housing, wait until our Legislature “fixes” ACT 250 then? According to polls i’ve seen, responded to by literate Afghanis I assume, show that some 40% approve of suicide bombings and 90% approve of Sharia Law, NO problem there! Perhaps if they really care for their country & it’s future they can make their way to the Panshir Valley & join the resistance, no? WE claim to abhor chopping off hands & stonings but BOTH are done publicly by our “allies” like Saudi Arabia, in stadiums no less. It would be cheaper to house them in countries like Pakistan than to bring them here & less culturally shocking for them too. John, we’re FULL UP now, or should we house ALL our homeless in hotels/motels forever?

  2. Analysis
    CORTES: Mass Migration Was Never Part of America’s $2 Trillion Afghan Debacle.
    August 23, 2021 · Steve Cortes
    …After two decades, thousands of deaths, and trillions of dollars expended by America in Afghanistan, what debts do we owe that country and its people?

    For those who took material risk to assist American operations there, surely our country can assist their safe removal from immediate danger. We have many bases in the region, plus allies nearby who share cultural and religious traits with these migrants and can provide refuge.

    ***But not one of these Afghans should be coming to America. That was never the deal…

  3. Ukraine could be abandoned, just as Afghanistan.

    Ukraine’s current position is untenable.

    A prosperous, optimistic, free, democratic country cannot be built on ethnic division, russophobia, fascism, and the slogan ‘death to the enemy’.

    The purging of pro-Russian politicians, the shutting down of opposition media, the interrogation of artists by the security services, are all signs that the country is locked in an authoritarian regime, and one which the US supports.

    And yet, just like that, Ukraine could also be abandoned in a flash, like Afghanistan, left buried under the pile of rubble the US helped to create.

    It will take time, but Ukraine’s only hope is to accept its shared cultural heritage with Russia, and recognise the rights of its Russian-speaking citizens in order to resolve the civil war.

    It can reject its historical ties with Russia, but a nation which denies its past has no future.

  4. I for one will not be welcoming Muslims who despise our culture and nation, the Judeo-Christian ethos – which Islam commands they fight to death. I will be mourning the hostaged American brothers and sisters and their children who will die brutal barbaric deaths or become enslaved, with their families here in my country.
    All 50,000 of our US brothers and sisters could be home now:
    Only 5 Percent Of People Evacuated From Afghanistan By The US Are Americans
    August 25, 2021 By Jordan Davidson

    More than 82,300 have been airlifted from Kabul since the government’s collapse nearly two weeks ago, but the Pentagon says that, as of Wednesday, only 4,400 Americans were rescued in those evacuation operations.

    • ‘Some Americans will be left behind’…
      Posted by Kane on August 25, 2021 1:40 pm

      NEW: Pentagon updates on situation at Kabul airport:

      In past 24 hrs:

      – 90 flights departed Kabul
      – 19,000 evacuated
      – Plane departed airport every 39 minutes


      – 88,000 people evacuated


      – More than 10,000 at airport awaiting departure

      — ABC News (@ABC) August 25, 2021

      MGTaylor: Every 39 minutes yesterday, a plane departed Kabul airport. #HKIA

      — Department of Defense (@DeptofDefense) August 25, 2021

  5. John,

    Here is another INDIRECT “opportunity” for Vermont.
    May be some of it can be bought, at pennies on the dollar, on the black market, by the VT National Guard.

    Biden’s Gift to Taliban Included 110 Helicopters, 20 Light Attack Airplanes, 42,000 Light Attack Vehicles, 25,000 Grenade Launchers

    If you thought the Joe Biden Afghanistan disaster was bad now – things are going to get much worse.

    Joe Biden supplied the Taliban terrorist organization and their Islamist accomplices with billions of dollars worth of US armaments.
    Advertisement – story continues below

    Rather than destroying the equipment before leaving the country, Joe Biden decided to leave the nearly $85 billion worth of US military equipment to the Taliban.

    Joe Biden left 300 times more guns than those passed to the Mexican cartels in Obama’s Fast and Furious program.

    A more complete list was created with public information and help from other intelligence sources. The list does not include all the extra kinds of non-lethal equipment, everything from MRE’s, Medical Equipment, and even energy drinks.

    The big story might be the pallets of cash the Taliban have been posting, videos of pallets of weapons, and stacks of $100 bills they have seized.

    If the Taliban has 208 military aircraft then according to the NationMaster list the Taliban now ranks #26 of all countries in the number of military aircraft.

    It also appears the Taliban seized way more ScanEagle drones than the government is saying they did. There is no accounting on the number of crashed units.

    “This also raises concerns about how NAVAIR justified procuring 105 ScanEagle vehicles totaling over $32 million and spare parts totaling over $52 million, and future planned procurements.”

    This week, the SIGAR audit on the $174 million drone loss disappeared from its website.

    From 2017 to 2019, the U.S. also gave Afghan forces 7,035 machine guns, 4,702 Humvees, 20,040 hand grenades, 2,520 bombs and 1,394 grenade launchers, according to the since removed 2020 SIGAR report

    Here is a breakdown of estimated vehicle costs:

    Armored personnel carriers such as the M113A2 cost $170,000 each and recent purchases of the M577A2 post carrier cost $333,333 each.

    Mine resistant vehicles ranges from $412,000 to $767,000. The total cost could range between $382 million to $711 million.

    Recovery vehicles such as the ‘truck, wrecker’ cost between for the base model $168,960 and $880,674 for super strength versions.

    Medium range tactical vehicles include 5-ton cargo and general transport trucks were priced at $67,139. However, the family of MTV heavy vehicleshad prices ranging from $235,500 to $724,820 each. Cargo trucks to transport airplanes cost $800,865.

    Humvees – ambulance type (range from $37,943 to $142,918 with most at $96,466); cargo type, priced at $104,682. Utility Humvees were typically priced at $91,429. However, the 12,000 lb. troop transport version cost up to $329,000.

    Light tactical vehicles: Fast attack combat vehicles ($69,400); and passenger motor vehicles ($65,500). All terrain 4-wheel vehicles go up to $42,273 in the military databases.

  6. They said the Afghan people have special visas to come to the US.. How many are fakes. it’s a way to get these Taliban’s in our country. It’s been done before. Scott needs to wake the hell up.. if he wants these illegals and Taliban’s in Vermont. Let them all go and live with Scott. He can house them and support them

  7. And then Willem, we have those highly educated stunning people from Hong Kong that we have no interest in bringing in.
    They yearn for freedom and fly our flag and we leave them there.
    I think we are all smart enough to see what is really going on here.
    It’s long past time to water that tree of liberty. Jefferson was right.

  8. Yet, the Cubans are left to die and suffer at the hands of a commuist regime. The Haitians are left to dig themselves out of earthquake debris after their president was assisinated. Also heard Biden wants border patrol agents taken off the southern border and sent to the bloody sandbox to process refugees. Welcome to the NWO and the collapse of USA. There is no going back now. The long emergency is here to stay until there is nothing left to be stolen.

  9. Once again appreciate your interesting perspective on things, Mr. McClaughry.

    While immigrants have throughout our history infused our nation with their energy and desire to make a better life, and we have a moral obligation to the people who worked and risked much to help our troops, the problem with settling them in Vermont is the lack of housing which is already in short supply for working people.
    Do you have any suggestions on how that could be addressed?

  10. The old Trojan Horse, comes to Vermont. Comes to America. “How to catch wild pigs” comes to mind,,,the undermining of this great country is almost complete, they got nothing but time.

  11. The refugees Scott is welcoming with open arms are not only military interpreters and their families. They are also unvetted individuals who hate America and Americans. And, unvetted they will be, because we no longer have resources in Afghanistan to properly vet them. Another example of Scott’s failure to serve and to protect the people of Vermont.

  12. An opportunity for Vermont

    Illiterate, unskilled, uneducated, 7th century people, who adhere to radical versions of Islam, who dress and behave the same way, as they did then, who ACT OUT an “eye for an eye”, at the drop of a hat, to “defend their honor”, who practice physical dismemberment for minor offenses, who treat women as chattel, who enforce arranged marriages, etc., such people are an “opportunity for Vermont”?

    You have got to be kidding, right?

    • And then Willem, we have those highly educated stunning people from Hong Kong that we have no interest in bringing in.
      They yearn for freedom and fly our flag and we leave them there.
      I think we are all smart enough to see what is really going on here.
      It’s long past time to water that tree of liberty. Jefferson was right.

    • The Afghans you describe will be happy in their Talibanistan. The ones who worked side by side with US soldiers and Marines put their lives on the line, speak English, and want to contribute to a country where they have safety and opportunity. We owe them. We don’t owe hungry Hondurans and desperate Syrians.

      • No, No, No, John.

        Those western-oriented people are exactly the kind of people who should STAY in Afghanistan to help it “BUILD BACK BETTER”, per DEm/Prog slogan.

      • With repect Mr McClaughry – appreciate your writings and contribution as well as EAI to TNR. However, with up to 50,000 Americans now hostaged in one of the most barbaric nations – Afghanistan – facing a killing field after the fall of Saigon, all you can think to write is about is bringing Afghanis to VT to enrich your nonprofit friends and businesses, bc we “owe them”, to hell with US citizens? I ache and weep inside day and night – only solace is the few drinks after 5:00 and sleeping pills so I can sleep and I do not sleep well. And here at TNR we have community members defending Biden and his decision while slamming Deb and all conservatives and still blaming Trump. And a story about how VT can cash in on all this? Call me heartbroken.

        We don’t owe them or any culture which is unable to assimilate a thing. We owe them only a safe journey to the Middle Eastern home of their choice where they are free to file for immigration, or go to any nation which will have them. If promises can be broken to US citizens they can be broken to Asghanis also.

        We are not “enriched” by anyone coming here – they are enriched by coming to the greatest nation on earth and having a life the rest of the world can only dream of and living in relative safety. Unless I missed something – there is *no other nation* on earth that allows immigrants to vote.

        In the US we now have parallel cultures operating their own system of government enforcing Sharia Law on their ‘citizens’. US citizens, our quailty of life and safety is more important than profiteering or immigration. To bad this even needs to be said.

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