With the U.S. military's August 31 exit from Afghanistan looming, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver took a few minutes to advocate for the thousands of Afghan allies who he feels are "being left behind" by the Biden administration.
Oliver opened Sunday's show with a five-minute segment about the large population of Afghan interpreters who have worked for the U.S. military for years, but will now be left to fend for themselves once the military withdraws from the country. "This is a situation Biden's hair should be on fire about, both metaphorically and literally. It would, frankly, be a huge improvement on his current look, which I describe as, 'Business Ghost,'" said Oliver. "Because the fact is, there are thousands of Afghans who helped U.S. troops during the war who badly need to be evacuated because the Taliban very much want to kill them."
According to CBS News, the roughly 18,000 Afghans who have worked with U.S. troops over the past 20 years are eligible for a special immigrant visa to leave their country and come to the United States, but the process is incredibly slow and requires jumping through all sorts of legal hoops. Until their visa applications are approved, our Afghan allies remain in grave danger: according to No One Left Behind, at least 300 Afghans who served as interpreters were murdered by the Taliban since 2014, and Oliver explained that this figure will likely go up if the Biden administration declines to speed up the process.
"I will say, publicly, Biden has been sending some encouraging messages," continued Oliver, before playing a clip of the president telling Afghan allies, "There is a home for you in the United States, if you so choose, and we will stand with you — just as you stood with us."
"Oh, well, that sounds great!" responded the Last Week Tonight host (sarcastically, it should be noted). "Although the 'if they so choose' part is doing a lot of work, because it's clearly not so much their choice as it is ours. We are the ones in charge of the process, so putting the choice on the applicants is basically a surgeon handing you a scalpel saying, 'There is a tumor-free pancreas in your body, if you so choose, and I will stand with you.'"
"I think you might be fundamentally confused about who has power over the outcome here!" ripped Oliver. He added that Last Week Tonight even covered the topic of special immigrant visas in its first season, but unfortunately, nothing has improved since. "The fact that we are just scrambling now for a plan is inexcusable when we've had 20 years to develop one, and for around half that time, Biden was in the White House."
Last Week Tonight airs Sundays at 11:00 PM ET on HBO.
Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.