The Covenant Brilliantly Dramatizes Biden’s Betrayal of America’s Allies

An interview with film maker and human rights activist Jason Jones

By John Zmirak Published on April 25, 2023

A powerful new war movie has just come out, The Covenant. It stars Jake Gylenhaal and Dar Salim, and depicts the life-or-death friendship of an American soldier and his Afghan translator, during our country’s long, futile occupation of that country. Blown away by the film, The Stream’s John Zmirak interviewed our friend Jason Jones, himself a filmmaker and a human rights activist who works to serve Afghans, among others. His organization, the Vulnerable People Project, has worked to rescue and offer aid to many thousands of Afghans, especially those who aided America before Joe Biden’s shock surrender in that country.

John Zmirak: First of all, can we agree that The Covenant is a great movie? It’s really entertaining, gripping, beautifully filmed and acted with subtlety and conviction. We care about the characters and the stakes are high from the first scene. Director Guy Ritchie has really evolved, hasn’t he? 

And what about Dar Salim, who played Ahmed, the Afghan translator? Apparently he’s an Iraqi who lives in Denmark. Since your work lets you meet a lot of Afghans, do you think he nailed the role?

Jason Jones: Dar Salim steals the show. His character, Ahmed gives audiences a glimpse into the complex motives of the tens of thousands of young Afghans who weighed the risks and then chose to serve as the “eyes and ears” of the Americans in exchange for the promise of a Special Immigrant Visa.

His character hit me close to home. Our director of operations was a translator, who came to the U.S. with $2 in his pocket. He got a job in a convenience store, and worked there until he could buy it. He snuck back into Afghanistan to rescue the woman he loved from the Taliban regime. Our organization worked with him remotely to get the two of them home. Now he is paying it forward 1000-fold through his work with us, aiding other Afghans.

The Hero: An Afghan Translator

How did The Covenant surprise you?

Going into the film, I assumed it would mostly portray the American as the great hero who risks everything to save his Afghan interpreter. Wrong! Much of the movie is about the heroic Afghan who gives all and risks all to save an American soldier, Sergeant Kinnley (Jake Gyllenhaal). Ahmed, through heroic self-sacrifice, gives Sgt. Kinney the burden of honor, the privilege of being party to a Covenant. Dar Salim powerfully yet quietly portrays the tragic strength of that character, whom our government leaves stranded and hunted by the Taliban. It’s only in Act Three that Sgt. Kinnley is goaded to keep the promise his government broke.

This film couldn’t be less opportune for the Biden regime. It highlights their catastrophic, almost treasonous failure in Afghanistan. It reminds voters of the sudden cut and run abandonment of $90 billion in military equipment to our terrorist enemies. And the handing over of a country which thousands of Americans died to try to save to strategic control by China — the Taliban’s close ally since both signed a treaty (I’m not making this up) on September 11, 2001. Do you think the filmmakers faced resistance because of the film’s potential political impact? 

No. The Woke Mob is self-obsessed; in this way, it is inoculated against caring for actual vulnerable people on

Jason Jones visiting with Kurdish fighters against ISIS in 2017.

the other side of the world. “The Militia of Thoughtlessness” is too busy rummaging through Trump’s closet and battling for Transgender Story Hour to notice a foreign policy failure that thrust 20 million into starvation and pushed Afghan women into the blast zone of ISIS bombs.

Working to Save Our Friends

You run a pro-life non-profit, the Vulnerable People Project. Biden’s shock surrender in Afghanistan kind of shoved your whole life and work onto another track, didn’t it? Please explain what you’ve been doing since.

Since the ham-fisted, epically catastrophic U.S. retreat from Afghanistan, VPP has worked first to serve:

  • American citizens left behind.
  • Green Card holders and permanent residents.
  • SIV qualified people who served the US and our interests.
  • The widows and orphans of our Afghan Allies who were Killed in Action.
  • Religious and ethnic minorities we have shoved into existential peril. And
  • The people of Afghanistan generally, who have weathered two years of famine.

Our work has been divided into evacuation, resettlement, safe house management, education, and food security. To this end, we have delivered 3 million meals since the US withdrawal. We’ve evacuated and resettled Afghans, and maintained safe houses across two countries. We have also supported three girls’ schools and a university, built a women’s medical center and drilled wells, and built water systems for remote villages without access to water.

Pro-Life, All Around the World

What is the VPP?

The Vulnerable People Project is a program of the non-profit HERO Inc. I founded HERO in 2002 to harness the power of the pro-life movement to advocate for vulnerable communities facing genocide, democide, and total war. In this way, our Afghan initiative is consistent with the work we have been doing for over 20 years.

Our mission is to defend the vulnerable from violence by promoting human dignity and inspiring solidarity. Our vision is a civilization that venerates the dignity, beauty, and worth of the human person from the first movement of life to natural death. One which spiritedly defends life at every level of governance, from that of the smallest village to alliances and agreements among sovereign nations.

20 Years of Futile Sacrifice

One thing that occurred to me while watching this film was: This was always hopeless. We should never have sent more than a few hundred soldiers into that quagmire of a country to hunt Bin Laden, then gotten out immediately What are your views on the Bush/Obama strategy in Afghanistan?

In fairness, the strategic goal of the invasion of Afghanistan was to prevent another 9-11 and neutralize AQ, and our military delivered on that promise. But then the Davos crowd flooded Afghanistan with money, launched social engineering programs, “Government in a Box,” etc, and so inflated the mission beyond its original scope that failure became inevitable.

But to the heart of your question, in the beginning, Bush, Rumsfeld, and Tommy Franks didn’t want to send many forces to Afghanistan. They were risk-averse politicians. Initially, you had a few hundred CIA and Special Operations forces, and we outsourced the capture to warlords. They, in turn, took our money and were open to Al Qaeda bribes allowing Bin Laden to escape the Tora Bora cave complex and flee into Pakistan.

We should have sent two to three divisions, surrounded the Tora Bora cave complex, and then figured out who was who from the DNA sampling left over.

Bush had a foreign policy, but it was mismanaged every step of the way. Obama had no strategy, which was made evident by the resurgence of the Taliban in 2009 and the blood spilled across Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya.

Pay Your Debts

The central theme of the film is honor, repaying debts. An American soldier is saved from captivity with the Taliban by the amazing heroics of his Afghan translator. (It’s apparently a true story.) Then when he gets home, he dedicates his life, and every penny he has, to saving that translator. Finally, he has to mortgage his house and go there personally. How has the Biden policy toward Afghanistan profaned America’s honor?

There is a divide that runs through the heart of America. Most Americans are too consumed with the battle to make ends meet and balance the demands of work and family to have the bandwidth for our endless adventures worldwide. In other words, they are working hard to keep their promises, pay their mortgages, make payroll for their small businesses, go from job to job in the gig economy, and then pick up their kids from school.

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They’re too busy to look up and comprehend the horrendous suffering our foreign policy failures have inflicted on the very same people we were told we sent our sons and daughters off to save. We are honorable people. Several veterans whom I know personally mortgaged their homes (just like in the film) to rescue their former interpreters from certain death.

VPP has supporters from former privates to field grade officers from all branches of service that donate to our work and check in regularly on our progress serving their Afghan buddies. I have been overwhelmed by the fortitude of veterans and other concerned Americans who have not wavered in their commitment to our allies. Not even after almost two years of running into brick wall after brick wall in their attempts to get the US government to keep their promises.

On the other side of the divide is a banal elite whose thoughtlessness is only outpaced by their sloth and avarice. The Afghans are hanging over the abyss, holding white-knuckled to the promise the government of the United States made of a visa. Their only hope is that honorable, everyday Americans can look up from their personal responsibilities long enough to force our elected officials to act like the decent Americans they represent and keep the promises they made in our name.

What Can We Learn?

What should we as Americans and moviegoers know about the Afghan people?

They love their children just like anyone else. The Afghan people are like us—the difference is they have suffered hell on earth with few breaks for 50 years. It is important to remember Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic country and maybe even more surprising to most people is the country’s religious diversity and rich history.


What lessons should we take away from the Afghan debacle, given all the suffering of Americans and Afghans over 20 years, which all amounted to nothing?

Our national interest is not advanced through breaking promises to friends and allies.

Nor by shattering order we cannot rebuild.

Nor by treating our enemies better than our friends. (For example, embracing the criminal Iranian regime and abandoning the Iraqi and Afghan people.)

When you are the hegemon in a unipolar world, you are responsible for paying the tab to clean up your wars of choice. Failure to pay the tab will lead to the rise of new powers and a dangerous multipolar world.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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