This story in the New York Times about U.S. military personnel being ordered to ignore the sexual abuse of boys by Afghan allies has been widely picked up. However, I would be remiss if I didn't link to it here.
We have not ignored this Afghan practice here -- it's come up quite a few times. But it is hard to understand why it has gotten so little attention in the U.S. As far as I can tell has never been publicly discussed by U.S. politicians or military leaders. I'm sure some examples can be found, but they must be few and were pretty much ignored. I would recommend following the link to the New York Times piece, but if you have used up your free monthly views you can find a summary here. In a nutshell, for those who haven't been paying attention, it is a custom in Afghanistan for powerful men to sexually exploit boys. And they even do it on U.S. military bases. The policy of the U.S. military command is to look the other way, and personnel have been disciplined for refusing to do so.
This just opens up the wider question of what exactly the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan in the first place. The invasion happened originally because the Taliban had harbored al Qaeda and the purported rationale was to chase down Osama bin Laden and his gang. George W. Bush failed to do that, bin Laden escaped to Pakistan where he was harbored by our ostensible "ally" Pakistan, which the U.S. government obviously knew perfectly well, but they didn't invade Pakistan. Meanwhile we spent our blood and treasure to keep a corrupt and feckless government in power in Kabul and to give weapons and money to child rapists.
The western occupation has opened up some social space for more progressive cultural forces in Afghanistan, most importantly a serious public discussion about the status of women. People who live in the cities where the traditional culture does not prevail do fear Taliban rule, or a power sharing arrangement in which the Taliban can strongly influence social policy. But how the U.S. government and people should engage with Afghanistan demands a discussion we haven't had.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Posted by Cervantes at 10:26 AM