The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2024 63 Afghanistan: At the Airport SCOTT WEINHOLD August 2021, the Kabul International Airport: A couple dozen members of the U.S. Embassy Kabul team, who volunteered to stay behind when their colleagues were evacuated, were joined by more than 100 State colleagues flowing into a dangerous war zone. None of them knew, or asked, how things would work, whether they would be safe, or even how long they would be there. They simply knew there was a desperate need for help, and they stepped up. Every part of the Foreign Service worked arm in arm with our Defense Department colleagues to save more than 124,000 Americans, allies, and Afghans. I’ve never been more proud of the Foreign Service. Afghanistan: Behind the Scenes for Kabul ALAN EATON After the fall of Kabul and the sudden evacuation out of Afghanistan, the consular team that flew into Kabul worked under immense pressure to facilitate the departure of more than 124,000 people. All along we knew that our colleagues were waiting at various points in Germany, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Albania, and Washington, D.C., to assist these evacuees. In Kabul we didn’t know where the evacuees were going to land, but we knew our colleagues in the Foreign Service were diligently working behind the scenes to help people to safety. Vietnam/Switzerland: A Standing Ovation AMBASSADOR KENNETH M. QUINN In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, individuals began escaping on small boats in search of freedom. In 1979, however, no country, including the U.S., was accepting any more refugees from Indochina. Refugees were drowning at sea. While on a Pearson Fellowship to Des Moines, I urged Iowa Governor Robert Ray to issue a public appeal and to lobby President Jimmy Carter to reopen America’s doors. Amb. Richard Holbrooke and FSOs at State like Frank Wisner and Lionel Rosenblatt added critical support. A few months later, I was at the July 1979 U.N. Meeting on Refugees and Displaced Persons in Geneva when Vice President Walter Mondale announced that the U.S. would accept 168,000 new refugees every year. The “boat people” were saved! With the exception of the communist delegations, every country’s representatives gave a spontaneous standing ovation to the United States for our humanitarian life-saving leadership. This map shows the movement of Afghan evacuees across the globe in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. CHAD BLEVINS/FSJ