US Marine giving water to Afghan children captures American goodness, but conditions are dire in Kabul

A U.S. Marine unwittingly displayed all that’s good about the United States in one split instance when he opted to deliver water to Afghan children outside the Kabul airport.

With a smile on his face, the Marine moved from child to child, motioning for them to open their mouths before pouring a sip of water from a bottle — in the process, he also delivered smiles to the faces of all.

But then, it’s that American goodness that generally gets us into messes like this.

It’s not clear when the video was recorded and while things appear calm at the time, that has proven to be the exception more than the rule. Taliban fighters have reportedly set up a perimeter around Hamid Karzai International Airport and the scene outside has been chaotic and violent.

On more than one occasion, gunfire has been heard in what appears to be primitive attempts at crowd control.

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said seven Afghans were killed in crowds near the Kabul airport on Saturday, Reuters reported.

“Conditions on the ground remain extremely challenging but we are doing everything we can to manage the situation as safely and securely as possible,” the ministry said.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby minimized reports that some Americans were being beaten by the Taliban as they tried to navigate the throngs of people, saying that these attacks were “sporadic.”

“We’ve actually been talking about this for several days here, here at this particular podium,” Kirby added. “It wasn’t just Americans that he talked about that have been harassed and in some cases beaten.”

“We don’t believe it is a very large number,” he further stated.

And while President Biden addressed the nation on Sunday afternoon, in an attempt to reassure Americans that things are improving, NBC News reported that local staff members at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul are “deeply disheartened” by U.S. evacuation efforts.

According to the network, which cited a State Department diplomatic cable sent on Saturday, the staff is feeling “a sense of betrayal and distrust in the U.S. government.”

The staff highlighted the chaos outside the airport, which includes heat exhaustion, the crush of people, and the brutality of Taliban fighters at various checkpoints set up.

“It would be better to die under the Taliban’s bullet” than face the crowds again, one staff member was quoted as saying in the cable.

“Happy to die here, but with dignity and pride,” another said.

A third member reportedly accused the U.S. of prioritizing Afghan government elites with contacts in the U.S., who had the correct paperwork and other options to flee the country.

The administration revealed Saturday during a briefing that 17,000 people had been evacuated out of Kabul, before noting that just 2,500 Americans were among them.

There was another viral incident last week involving U.S. Marines and an Afghan baby outside the airport — the scene capturing the sheer desperation of many to escape the Taliban rule.

Video captured a baby being hoisted up and over a barbed-wire fence at the airport and passed off to a Marine. The baby’s father reportedly also made it to the safety of the airport where they were reunited.

“I can confirm the uniformed service member depicted in the video is a Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit,” Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger said in a statement. “The baby seen in the video was taken to a medical treatment facility on-site and cared for by medical professionals.”

There was another incident where a pregnant Afghan refugee went into labor mid-flight and experienced complications with the delivery before airmen from the 86th Medical Group ultimately helped her deliver a baby girl in the cargo bay of the C-17 aircraft.

“The aircraft commander decided to descend in altitude to increase air pressure in the aircraft, which helped stabilize and save the mother’s life,” the Air Mobility Command said in a tweet.

Tom Tillison

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