Today, Lawfare and Goat Rodeo released the first two episodes of Allies, a podcast series that traces the U.S.’s efforts to protect Afghan interpreters, translators and other partners through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. That effort culminated in the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan in August 2021, when thousands of the U.S.’s local partners were left behind. In seven episodes, Allies will take listeners through the decade-long effort to honor America’s promises to its Afghan partners.
Episode 1: “Faithful and Valuable Service” opens at the Kabul airport this past August, where the failure of the SIV program contributed to the chaos. Then, we rewind to just before 9/11, when the U.S. government had little regional, let alone linguistic, expertise on Afghanistan. After the invasion, that knowledge gap needed to be filled rapidly, so the U.S. began hiring local partners through military contractors. They became essential partners, and it was nearly impossible for any U.S. platoon, provincial reconstruction team or diplomat to operate without interpreters and translators. They were the U.S.’s eyes and ears.
Episode 2: “A National of Iraq” takes a detour to Iraq, where interpreters and local partners were just as essential to the war effort. As violence escalated in 2006 and 2007, Iraq faced an insurgency that targeted anyone who worked with the Americans. Politicians, diplomats, soldiers, veterans and journalists took notice of the trend and looked to the SIV program as a potential solution.
Lawfare and Goat Rodeo will release one episode per week for the next five weeks. You can subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.