LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — While the videos and images of people desperately trying to escape Afghanistan were recorded thousands of miles away, the reality of it all is hitting home in Lexington.
"The situation has made me very anxious and very unhappy," senior lecturer at UK's Patterson School of Diplomacy, Dr. Robert Farley, said.
Farley said some of his former students are trapped in the country. His colleague, Associate Professor Dr. Kathleen Montgomery, taught them as well.
"Those who we've talked to are remaining in their homes and just trying to lay low and just see what's going to happen," Montgomery said.
They said the graduates have dedicated themselves to improving the country; progress that is now at risk.
"We at the Patterson School continue to have alumni, Afghan alumni who are in Kabul right now," Farley said. "People who have worked very hard to make this government work and create a new Afghanistan. And it's been just a tremendous source of anxiety here in Lexington to watch this situation deteriorate and collapse."
For now, all they can do is wait and see whether they make it out safely. They're also waiting to learn the future of the country.
Montgomery said there are fears about losing the progress that has been made on education and women's rights over the past two decades.
"I think there is no consistent message from the Taliban but based on their ideology and strict implementation of Sharia law, the outlook for women in schools, women in government is not positive," she said.
She said the real test on how the Taliban will treat the Afghan people will come later, once the news cameras leave and the chaos comes to an end.
In the interview with LEX18 Farley also explained how Afghanistan got to this place.
He said it all started in May 2020 when the Trump administration made a deal with the Taliban to withdraw American troops.
"The Taliban then stepped into that void and started negotiating with commanders, started negotiating with individual soldiers, and said look, the Americans are not going to be here to help you," he said. "We don't think you can fight us, but we'd rather not kill you in the immediate future. How about we come to an arrangement by which you go home, we'll pay you $50 dollars, $100, and allow your soldiers to disperse and simply allow us to advance."
He said the collapse of the Afghan military would have been very difficult to avoid without a long-term and potentially permanent U.S. presence in the country.
"Simply the way that we helped build up the ANA (Afghan National Army) over the past 20 years didn't put down any permanent roots," he said.
However, he added that the Biden administration could have had better planning on the evacuation. But a lot of what has happened was "baked into the cake".