Wars of feminist aggression

Feminism, Foreign Policy, and the Taliban

[Here are some excerpts from Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars.
Emphasis is added.]

[GW, pages 351–352]
There were small changes stirring in American policy
as [President Bill] Clinton entered his second term [in 1997]....
Madeleine Albright, who arrived as secretary of state,
was more sharply attuned to human rights violators such as the Taliban
than Warren Christopher had been.
An anti-Taliban petition drive
organized by the Feminist Majority and Mavis Leno,
the wife of late-night comedian Jay Leno,

captured Albright’s attention.

[GW, pages 362–363]
By the autumn of 1997
persistent lobbying against the Taliban by the Feminist Majority
had influenced the two most important women in the Clinton administration,
Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton.
When Albright visited a refugee camp in Peshawar that November,
she departed from her prepared script
and denounced the Taliban’s policies toward women as “despicable.”
[The Albright quotation is from
Dennis Kux, The United States and Pakistan, p. 342.
“We’re opposed to their [the Taliban’s] approach on human rights,”
Albright said.
“We’re opposed to their despicable treatment of women and children
and their lack of respect for human dignity....
It is impossible to modernize a nation
if half or more of a population is left behind.”
It was the first time a Clinton Cabinet member
had made such a forceful statement about Taliban human rights violations.
A few weeks later Hillary Clinton
used a major speech about human rights at the United Nations
to single out the Taliban.
“Even now the Taliban in Afghanistan are blocking girls from attending schools,”
Clinton said.
The Taliban were harassing those “who would speak out against this injustice.”
It was the first time that either of the Clintons
had seriously criticized the Taliban in public.

The impetus had come from
old friends of Albright and Hillary Clinton
in the feminist policy networks of the Democratic Party.
These were accomplished, professional women of the baby boomer generation
now stepping into powerful positions
that women had not held in Washington before, at least not in these numbers.
They kept in touch with one another and worked each other’s issues.
The Taliban had now slipped onto the agenda of this fax machine network.

Sitting cross-legged
in their barren ministries thousands of miles away in Kandahar,
the Taliban’s leaders had no idea
where this turn in American attitudes had come from.
They made little effort to find out.
When pressed on the issue of education for girls
by the occasional visiting American delegation,
they said, “This is God’s law,”
recalled the State Department’s Leonard Scensny.
“This is the way it’s supposed to be. Leave us alone.”

For information about how effective the feminist campaign
to prevent any developmental assistance from the West from reaching Afghanistan was,
note the following quote
(original location; current instances).
Emphasis is added.

“Her [Mavis Leno] involvement in the Feminist Majority's Campaign
was also instrumental in
defeating the energy company UNOCAL's efforts
to construct an oil pipeline across Afghanistan
that would have supplied the Taliban with over $100 million
and dramatically increased their control in the region.

She is currently a leader in the effort to make

the restoration of women's rights
a nonnegotiable element
of a post-Taliban Afghanistan.”

Is it not demands such as this, coming from the women of America,
that are preventing a political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan?

I would suggest that the question
“Is the equal treatment of men and women in Afghanistan
worth the West’s fighting for?”

is both a question worthy of debate
and one that should be explicitly asked of our politicians.
Let’s see what they say, for the record.
In particular, how would Nancy Pelosi answer that?
How many billions is she willing to spend (from our debt-laden national treasury),
and lives to expend,
and how much anti-Americanism to engender,
for her feminist ideals?

Note also this paragraph from the Feminist Majority’s 2000 Annual Report
(emphasis is added):

Smeal and Leno deliver petitions [in 2000]:
Chair of the Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan Mavis Leno,
Director of Policy and Research Jennifer Jackman, and
President Eleanor Smeal
meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and
top officials in the State Department
on the horrific treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan,
delivering 72,000 petitions from concerned FM members and supporters.
FM learns that
the State Department is receiving more mail on this issue
than any other foreign policy issue.

[A further example of women pushing their parochial agenda to the fore
in foreign policy is the Women’s Foreign Policy Group
(“Promoting Women’s Leadership in International Affairs”).]

[Here are the concluding three paragraphs
from Section 2.3, “Antinational Organizations”,
of Michael Scheuer’s 2008 Marching Toward Hell.

(In section 6.1
Scheuer gives the following list of what he there calls “antinationalist groups”:
“human rights organizations,
disarmament groups,
environmental organizations, and
the school of just-war theorists”.)

All emphasis is added.]

The absurdity of giving these groups and their often-celebrity spokespersons
a telling voice at the table of government
was apparent to the CIA officers who worked against bin Laden and al-Qaeda
after their return to Afghanistan from Sudan in May 1996.
Shortly thereafter the Taliban regime
consolidated power over most of Afghanistan, and
offered bin Laden and his fighters the status of protected guests.
There was, to be fair, never much chance
that Washington could have negotiated with the Taliban
to secure bin Laden’s arrest and extradition.
No people are more protective of their guests than Afghans, and
none is less likely
to abide by the coercively phrased demands of a foreign power.
the Taliban did want Washington
to recognize it as the legitimate government of Afghanistan,

and it was no threat to the United States
except that it hosted bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
The Clinton administration underscored this reality
with its ardor for a deal with the Taliban
to allow Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL)
to build a natural gas pipeline through southern Afghanistan [cf.]
while bin Laden was resident there.
For those of us working the issue, therefore, it seemed reasonable that
Washington should use all the levers of its power
to seek bin Laden’s turnover and
to avoid giving the Taliban more reasons to refuse.

But such a commonsense approach was foreclosed by
the voice and influence of a woman named Mavis Leno, the comedian’s wife,
and her Hollywood sisters-in-feminism.
While sitting around the pool,
Mrs. Leno et al. apparently decided that
social and political rights for Afghan women
would be their cause-of-the-moment,
and they had no problem getting a hearing in the White House....

Mrs. Leno,
the chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and
the leaders of NOW

forced the Senate to pass a resolution (S.Res. 68, May 5, 1999)
calling on the president
not to recognize the Taliban
unless rights for women were secured.

{Endnote 2.16:
See Kenneth Katzman, “Afghanistan: Current Issues and U.S. Policy Concerns,”
Congressional Research Service Report (Internet version), November 21, 2001.
[Which says
“U.S. women’s rights groups
like Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women (NOW)

mobilized to stop the Clinton Administration
from recognizing the Taliban government
unless it alters its treatment of women.
On May 5, 1999, the Senate passed S.Res. 68,
a resolution calling on the President
not to recognize any Afghan government
that refuses to end discrimination against women.”]
Richard Clarke also though it better to bend to the will of the feminists
than to protect all Americans.
He told the 9/11 commissioners
that he opposed a U.S. State Department proposal
to ask the Saudis
to give the Taliban $250 million in return for bin Laden
“the idea might not seem attractive
to either Secretary [of State] Albright or First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton—
both critics of the Taliban’s record on women’s rights.”

Kean et al., 9/11 Commission Report, 125
[referencing Chapter 4, Section 4.3, Paragraph 4.3.17,
which says in toto:
“Frustrated by the Taliban’s resistance,
two senior State Department officials suggested
asking the Saudis to offer the Taliban $250 million for Bin Ladin.
Clarke opposed having the United States facilitate
a “huge grant to a regime as heinous as the Taliban”
and suggested that
the idea might not seem attractive
to either Secretary Albright or First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton-
both critics of the Taliban’s record on women’s rights.

The proposal seems to have quietly died.”].}

Thus, eliminating the threat from bin Laden and al-Qaeda—
the most important U.S. national-security goal in Afghanistan—
was encumbered by a second demand
on which the Taliban was just as hard-over:
Western-style rights for Afghan women.

allowing Mrs. Leno and her sisters-in-the-cause
to shape U.S. Afghan policy
in favor of
an issue that is not remotely a genuine U.S. national interest,

[President] Clinton and his lieutenants blithely forfeited
the admittedly small chance that Washington had
to resolve the bin Laden issue with the Taliban before 9/11.


End of excerpts from Michael Scheuer’s Marching Toward Hell

Here are some comments by KHarbaugh on the above:

So let’s see.
From 1999 to 2001
I am neither a diplomat nor a policy-maker,
but it seems to me that the natural and prudent course of action for the U.S.,
in those circumstances, would be
for U.S. diplomats to enter into negotiations with the Taliban
to see if a mutually satisfactory deal could be worked out.

Evidently that did not happen,
evidently at least in part because of Senator Boxer’s S.Res. 68.
No one can say for certain what the results would have been,
but the point is that we did not even try.

Now, in 2009,
it seems to me that the following questions should be explicitly asked
of Senator Boxer, Secretary Albright,
and Hillary Clinton (addressing her role as then-First Lady,
which she now claims included influencing policy):
  1. With hindsight, do you agree or disagree that
    the U.S. should have offered recognition to the Taliban,
    if it would have brought bin Laden into a situation
    where he could not have participated in the 9/11 plot?
  2. More broadly,
    would have supported recognizing the Taliban,
    even given their, in your view, incorrect attitudes towards women

    [for some debate on those attitudes, see this Wikipedia talk page],
    if it would have spared the U.S. from
    terrorist attacks launched from Afghanistan (in particular the 9/11 one)?
They might try to dodge the questions by saying “I don’t answer hypotheticals.”,
but I think that would only show
their dogmatic preference for feminist principles over
the safety and security of the American people,
not to mention the gigantic costs, in terms of
dollars, military casualties, lost privacy, and vast security-caused inconvenience,
the U.S. has suffered as a result of 9/11.

Here is a thought-experiment:
Supppose President Clinton, sometime in 1999 or 2000,
had given the following address from the Oval Office:

My fellow Americans,
I have today ordered a course of action which may be widely unpopular,
so I want to explain clearly the what and why of this action.

I have ordered Secretary of State Albright
to recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan
and to take such actions as she can
to enable that government to become a member of the United Nations.

Now, I understand very well that many Americans
are opposed to that government,
and that the Senate has passed a resolution
requesting that such recognition not be granted
unless that government meets certain conditions,
which in fact have not yet been met.
But I have been presented with certain information,
which I believe is credible,
that led me to override those concerns.

Our intelligence agencies have as their primary mission
identifying threats to the United States.
They have brought the following facts
to the attention of the National Security Council:
  1. There is a man, Osama bin Laden, who,
    speaking for an organization which he heads called al-Qaeda,
    has declared war not once but twice on the United States,
    in 1996 and 1998.
  2. Going beyond mere words,
    his organization has already launched several attacks on the U.S.
    intending to cause major, even catastrophic, loss:
    1. In 1993,
      an attempt to destroy both World Trade Center towers
      in New York.
      Fortunately, this did not succeed in that goal,
      but it came closer than anyone would like
      to that horrible result.
    2. In 1995 and 1996,
      the Riyadh and Khobar Towers bombings in Saudi Arabia.
    3. In 1998,
      the attacks on our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya,
      which resulted in hundreds of casualties.
    4. There were many more, less successful, attacks,
      which are described in a document
      accessible from the White House web site.
  3. He and his organization are making vigorous attempts
    to obtain weapons of mass destruction (WMD),
    that is, nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological weapons,
    intended for use against American cities.
    If he succeeds in that goal, and succeeds in so employing them,
    American casualties and property loss could be staggering.
  4. Thus far, his attacks have, while painful, been tolerable.
    But the intelligence agencies cannot guarantee that his organization
    might not be successful in some future attack,
    a new version of Pearl Harbor.
    For that reason, they recommend that
    the United States take appropriate measures
    to neutralize him and his organization
    before they can succeed in their Satanic goals.
Bin Laden and his organization have been located since 1996
in the far-off Central Asian nation of Afghanistan,
which has been roiled by turmoil since the departure of its Soviet occupiers in 1989.
Also since 1996 a group of men calling themselves the Taliban,
professing allegiance to an extremely puritanical version of Islam,
has assumed control over most of the country.
Its governing strictures are far removed from anything familiar in the West.
We will encourage them to accept more of the governing rules that we believe in, but we cannot force them to do so.
In any case, bin Laden and his organization exist in Afghanistan only under their sufferance.
We have entered into negotiations with them,
with the goal of having them yield up bin Laden and the key members of his organization to American justice,
so that they may be tried for the crimes that they have already committed against American citizens.
An indictment has been issued by our Department of Justice to that end.
The Taliban has, reluctantly, agreed to do so,
but conditioned that action on our recognizing them
and providing a certain level of aid for their development
and to relieve drought conditions that have plagued that land.
Further, they have agreed to allow a pipeline to be built through their country,
which will permit the vast energy resources of Central Asia
to more easily flow to the industrialized world, benefiting all parties.
Should the United States agree to those conditions?
It is surely a difficult choice.
But as part of my oath of office, I vowed that I would
“to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”,
and I take that to include defending its citizens from foreign attack.
I believe that neutralizing bin Laden and his organization is necessary to achieving that goal,
and so have agreed to those terms.
The National Security Council concurred.
As an initial sign of success, the Taliban government has already taken bin Laden and his key lieutenants into custody,
and upon formal recognition will transfer them into our custody, for appropriate judicial actions.
Finally, a personal note. I can tell you that
the First Lady does not agree with this decision,
but I must think of the American people first, not foreign citizens.
God bless you and good night.

That speech, as written, makes use of 20/20 hindsight, exaggeration, and, perhaps, wishful thinking:
  1. The massive scale of the disaster of 9/11 was, in truth,
    anticipated by almost no one.
    See Section 11.1, Imagination, of the 9/11 Commission Report.
  2. In reality, the 1993 WTC and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing
    were only tangentially related to al Qaeda.
    See Section 2.4 of the 9/11 Commission Report.
  3. That the Taliban would agree to yield bin Laden
    is pure speculation.
But even with the strongest possible case,
and even if the Taliban had fulfilled its part of the bargain
and yielded up bin Laden and his lieutenants,
what would have been the political reaction in America to that speech,
and the actions it announced?

I suggest that,
even without the effect of Clinton’s Lewinsky-caused credibility problem,
support would have been minimal, and opposition great.
The threat he alluded to would have been viewed as hypothetical,
unlikely to be serious,
so the benefit to be gained, neutralization of bin Laden and al-Qaeda,
would not have been seen to be significant.
On the other hand, the Taliban had by that point been so demonized in the West
that the cost, giving them recognition, would have been viewed as
a sell-out of the most basic principles of the West.
As the figure of speech goes, Clinton would have never heard the end of it,
and his approval rating and effectiveness as a president
would have been gravely damaged.
Clinton was surely a good enough politican to know all this,
and so the opposition from feminists
would have prevented him from giving that speech,
unless he had had superhuman powers of foretelling the future.
Finally, my point in this by now long-winded thought-experiment is to suggest that
people think seriously about the costs of feminism,
a topic that the media and academic worlds
seem distinctly uneager to examine or discuss,
as to do so instantly brings forth the charge of “sexism”,
which seems to neuter many people.

Feminism, the Media, and the Taliban

[Here are some excerpts from
Dexter FilkinsThe Forever War.
Filkins reported from Afghanistan between 1998 and 2000. Emphasis is added.]

[pages 28–9]

[Filkins is less than totally explicit about dates, but from what he does say
I gather these episodes date from around September 1998.]

[Mohammed Nabi] Mohammedi [Wikipedia, NYT]
was a Taliban commander who had fought through the civil war.
“Afghanistan was divided into fiefdoms,” he said.
“Each commander was only accountable to himself.
They were fighting for power, they were fighting for plunder.
The real purpose of Jihad had been forgotten.
The people had lost all hope.”

“The biggest scourge was the checkpoints,” he said.
“The commanders, the warlords, they would loot and plunder and violate all who passed.
Rape and violate the women.
In this city, Kabul, the capital, there were checkpoints on every block.
They were a plague on the people.”

Mohammedi was an old man, with weathered skin and a gray stringy beard
[how disgusting!].
But he was tough and hard and honest, you could see that in his eyes,
and he was as straight as a two-by-four.
[How can you tell someone’s honesty from their eyes?]
As I listened to him … I found myself admiring the old warhorse.
Anarchy had taken over, and the Taliban were the only guys mean enough and dark enough to wrestle it back to dusty earth.
“The Taliban heard nothing but God,” Mohammedi said.
“They bought order to a country that had become lawless.
Who would have imagined that they would have been victorious over all these commanders,
who had become so powerful and cruel?”

The commander paused, as if wondering himself.
And I felt sorry for him, too.
Mohammedi was a hick, a yahoo from the countryside, and he seemed to know it.
And he seemed to know we knew it, I mean we in the West.
He was like a kid from Appalachia come to the big city,
toothless and staring at the skyscrapers.
All he wanted was to be accepted.
[According to the Wikipedia article (as of 2008-11-18), [Mohammed Nabi] Mohammedi was Vice President of Afghanistan in the early 1990s,
and had extensive religious and political experience at a high Afghani level.
Unless there are two Afghanis with that same name (modulo the e/i conversion),
and Filkins interviewed the lesser-known one (which seems unlikely),
Filkins description of Mohammadi seems at radical variance with reality.]

Once, in Kandahar, one of the Taliban ministers called a press conference,
and his aides pleaded with the Western reporters who were in town to come along.
When a group of women reporters showed up,
the Taliban minister and his aides grew flustered and confused.
They huddled across the room. The reporters stood in the doorway.
The Talibs were talking and waving their arms.
Then one of them walked over to a window and held the draperies in his hand.
He motioned with his arm to the women.
“Would you mind standing behind the curtain during the press conference?” he asked.
The women laughed and walked out.
The aides frowned in disappointment.

“We are not drug addicts, we are not illiterate—we can run a government,”
Mullah Mohammed Hassan, the governor of Kandahar, said
a few days after I met Mohammedi.
Mullah Hassan had lost a leg fighting the Soviets.
He’d hobbled into the room and fallen into his chair,
removed his prosthesis and rubbed his stump.
More than anything,
what seemed to bother the Taliban leaders like Mohammedi and Hassan
was the refusal of the United Nations to extend them formal recognition
even though they’d conquered 90 percent of the country.

“Why won’t they accept the Taliban?” Mullah Mohammedi pleaded.
“I don’t know what we have done to earn the enmity of so many countries.”

Miscellaneous Articles


The War Within Islam
By Jim Hoagland
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-04-12

[1] “Leave me for the moment -- you can beat me again later,”
a 17-year-old girl begs between sobs in a video airing on Pakistan’s private television networks and circulating on the Internet.
But the local Taliban commander continues to flog her without mercy as a group of village men watch in silence.

[2] These images were described in a recent New York Times dispatch, which noted that the alleged transgressions of the girl could not be definitively established. The range of possible violations of the Taliban’s version of Islamic law -- from stepping outside her house without a male escort to having an illicit affair -- is appallingly vast.

[3] The video, apparently shot on a cellphone and given to a human rights activist, is not surprising in itself. The brutal subjugation of poor, uneducated women in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan is widely if incompletely known in the West. But the brief, blurry images are revealing.

[4] The recent U.S. strategic review, as well as learned tomes and countless op-ed columns, depict the struggle in the desolate Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier as being rooted in fierce nationalism, the region’s ancient warrior culture, the failures of nation-building and the rebirth of jihadist terrorism.

[5] But this video reminds us of

another driving force too often neglected or minimized in the analysis and commentary: the desire of Pakistani and Afghan men to be left in peace to deal with their womenfolk as they see fit.

There may be no more important recruiting tool for the Taliban and other Islamic extremist organizations.

[6] This is why the video should be required viewing for U.S. officials who are urging President Obama to seek accommodation with the Taliban to help secure a graduated U.S. exit from Afghanistan and confidently boasting that 70 percent of the Taliban are “reconcilable.”

[7] The Pakistan video is unlikely to change their minds.
They have good arguments about pursuing achievable U.S. goals in a time frame that is acceptable to the American public. But it will force them to look at the consequences of that kind of realism.

[8] Moreover, the scene shot in the Swat Valley -- a region the Pakistani government turned over to the Taliban in February rather than continue fighting there -- offers its own cultural commentary on Obama’s attempts to reach out to the Muslim world. In his speech last week in Turkey, he declared that the United States is not “at war with Islam.”

[9] The president is right -- as far as he goes. The struggle against al-Qaeda and its associates is not a war of religions with a monolithic Christianity fighting a unified Islam. But it is a religious war in significance and origin. Fanatical Islamic sects have framed their battle in holy terms and seek to destroy their faith’s mainstream values. It is not a war on Islam but a war within Islam. Who wins has enormous consequences for the world.

[10] That was the missing element in Obama’s otherwise admirable speech, which was delivered in one of the most tolerant, sophisticated Muslim countries on Earth. The savage misogyny and feudal fury of the Swat Valley are alien to modern, urban Turkey -- as they are to Indonesia, where Obama spent part of his childhood. The countries and personal experiences he focuses on are Islamic, certainly. But they are not Islam as a whole.

[11] All religions are absorbing the shocks of globalization. But none has felt more besieged than Islam as the flow of people, goods and instant communications across borders perturb or limit its deep reach into gender relations and family structures. And none has produced as violent a backlash from some of its adherents.

[12] It is difficult for policymakers and generals to account for such cultural factors in strategic reviews. We all rush past the obvious -- until a video from Swat makes it unavoidable.

[13] The realists are right about this: The United States and its NATO partners cannot “win” the war inside Islam. Perhaps all they can accomplish is to buy time for mainstream Islamic forces in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere to organize an effective response to the existential threat in their midst. That will be a costly, and essentially thankless, task for the United States. But it may yet be the least disastrous course to follow.

[14] “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religious-specific, values,” Barack Obama said in a 2006 speech that warned Americans against religious intolerance. It’s a pity he didn’t include that thought in his Ankara outreach.

Women, Extremism and Two Key States
New York Times Editorial, 2009-04-15

[1] There have been two recent reminders of the cost of extremism.
In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai signed a law that effectively sanctions marital rape.
In Pakistan, a video surfaced of the Taliban in the Swat Valley publicly flogging a young woman screaming for mercy.
Pakistan’s government compounded the indignity on Monday by giving in to Taliban demands and formally imposing Shariah law on the region.

[2] Such behavior would be intolerable anywhere.
But the United States is heavily invested in both countries,
fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban and financing multibillion-dollar military and development programs.
The cases represent an officially sanctioned brutality that violates American values and international human rights norms.
They also sabotage chances of building stable healthy societies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
[Healthy from whose point of view?
So America get to decide what is healthy in traditional Islamic areas?]

[3] In Afghanistan, particularly venal politics are at work. Mr. Karzai, whose popular support plummeted because of government ineptitude and corruption, is running for re-election in August. The new law, which affects family matters for the Shiite minority, seems a bald, particularly creepy, pander.

[4] It says of Shiite women: Unless she is ill, “a wife is obliged to fulfill the sexual desires of her husband.”
That is licensed coercion.

[5] If let stand, we fear such rules —
reminiscent of decrees issued when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s —
could also have a negative impact on laws affecting the majority Sunni population.
Instead of defending the law as he did,
Mr. Karzai must ensure that it is rewritten
to reflect principles of freedom and dignity for women.

[6] In Pakistan, the video of the woman’s flogging proves the bankrupt nature of the army’s strategy. Failing to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield, the army tried to appease them with a peace deal in February.
It ceded the insurgents control of Swat, 100 miles from Islamabad, and allowed free rein for their repressive ways.
The woman was beaten after declining a Taliban fighter’s marriage proposal, the head of the Peshawar Bar Association told reporters.

[7] After resisting for weeks, President Asif Ali Zardari capitulated to political pressure and signed a regulation formally imposing Islamic law on Swat as part of the peace deal. We seriously doubt this will bring peace, and it will certainly not make life better for Pakistani women. It is unlikely that Mr. Zardari’s wife — the slain former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto — would have ever consented to such a craven sellout.

[8] The one encouraging sign came last week, when Pakistan’s recently reinstated chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,
publicly rebuked the attorney general and other officials at a court hearing for inaction in the flogging case.
We hope this was not just grandstanding
and that he and his supporters will find a way to make as powerful a case for this victim’s rights
as they did for Mr. Chaudhry’s return to the Supreme Court.


Many Pakistanis have wasted their time decrying the video as a conspiracy intended to defame Islam and Pakistan.
They should be demanding that the army — Pakistan’s strongest and most functional institution —
defend against an insurgency that increasingly threatens the state.
Like their military and political leaders,
Pakistan’s people are in a pernicious state of denial about where the real danger lies.

[Wow! Get a load of that.
"Pakistan’s military and political leaders and people are all in a pernicious state of denial".
Talk about arrogance!
Just who is the West to decide when the Pakistani people are "wasting their time"?
Or know better than they "where the real danger lies"?]

An Afghan Feminism
By Michael Gerson
Washinton Post Op-Ed, 2009-07-10

[It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the flaming feminist bias of the WaPo editorial page
that one of its regular columnists, the totally unconservative,
but billed as a conservative, Michael Gerson,
argues here for perpetual war with the people of Afghanistan,
at untold and unnecessary cost to the U.S.,
to meet the demands of the feminist ideology.
Note also that this desire to fight wars of feminist aggression
dovetails with that of the Post’s regular foreign-affairs columnist, Jim Hoagland.
It’s always amazing to me that so many people, liberals and Democrats especially,
blame our foolish and unnecessary wars with much of the Muslim world
on Bush-43, Cheney, or the “military-industrial complex,”
rather than Washington’s biggest war-mongerers, the Washington Post ownership and editorial page.]

Pentagon Enlists Feminists for War Aims
by Tom Hayden (a name well-known to baby-boomers)
Huffington Post, 2009-07-18

[Emphasis is added.]

[1] Over a decade ago a young woman approached me on the California Senate floor with a petition against the Taliban.
Women are being repressed, tortured and killed by religious fundamentalists, she said.
I signed on.
The Taliban seemed like a Ku Klux Klan aimed at women.
I was disgusted that the State Department and oil companies
would negotiate with them over pipelines, with cursory regard for women’s rights.
I still feel that way.

[2] But I had no idea then that I was joining The Feminist Majority in a coalition with the Pentagon to invade and occupy Afghanistan.
Given the respect I have for Ellie Smeal and Kathy Spillar, among others,
it’s still hard to believe that they think Afghan women can be liberated by an invading, bombing, imprisoning American army.
It’s hard to believe that Predators, drones, Special Forces, detention camps and foreign occupiers are solutions to Taliban fundamentalism.
Even the US-supported Kabul government showed its real character this year
by passing a law requiring women to obey their husbands in sexual matters,
in violation of the country’s own constitution and international norms.

[3] A top United Nations official this month told a Kabul audience
“that violence against women is not being challenged or condemned.”
This was eight years following the Bonn Agreement which included human rights at its core.
In northern areas under Western occupation, the UN report found that in 39 percent of rapes
“that perpetrators were directly linked to power brokers who are, effectively,
above the law and enjoy immunity from arrest as well as immunity from social condemnation.”

[4] It’s safe to say the Kabul government will not be recognizing any NOW chapters among its local non-governmental organizations in the foreseeable future.

[5] The Feminist Majority echoes Democratic Party hawks in claiming that the liberation of Afghanistan was well underway until the Bush Administration wandered off into Iraq.
But Afghanistan was among the poorest countries in the world before and after the Bush years,
and will continue to be left impoverished by a Pentagon budget that expends 90 percent of funds for military occupation.
[A comment from the author of this blog:
I really hate the idea, which seems so prevalent among the ruling elite, that
it is the duty of the U.S. to incur mountains of debt in order to lift all these countries out of poverty.
That’s what is happening now.
We borrow from China and the oil producers
in order to pay for “transforming” “backward” Muslim countries.
Sounds like a bad idea to me.]

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan is 174th of 178 countries in its human development index.
One in every four children dies at birth, the fourth highest child mortality rate in the world.
Half of Afghan children is malnourished,
and an estimated 40 per cent of children die from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.
Thirteen per cent of the population have access to safe drinking water and 12 per cent have access to adequate sanitation. In both Afghanistan and Pakistan, children are growing up traumatized, malnourished, stunted and extremely stunted [the categories the United Nations uses].
Life expectancy for women in “peacetime” is 44, twenty percent below the global mean.

[6] The Feminist Majority chooses to be uncharacteristically obscure in advocating more American troops as the solution.
Its website speaks of more “peacekeeping forces” rather than an escalation of the occupation.
They write that “virtually everyone knows that a military solution alone won’t work.
Yet, we cannot ignore that security and the Taliban are among Afghans’ top concerns”, whatever that means.
They quote an Afghan human rights activist, Sima Simar, who obliquely says
“security must be re-established until the Afghan army and police can take over.”
But they fail to note that the current Pentagon plan for establishing an Afghan security force will take at least ten more years.
[And why believe that it will succeed even then?]
Meanwhile, the war continues under the direction of an American general, Stanley McChrystal,
whose career in Iraq was in clandestine Special Ops,
including the supervision of many extra-judicial killings
[according to Bob Woodward’s most recent book].
The real effect of the Pentagon’s game plan is to kill Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects,
round up and hold thousands more in detention camps with no due process,
lock Afghanistan into the Western alliance, and
obtain American military bases and pipeline projects in the region.
Women’s rights always will be secondary to military objectives.
“Protecting the population”, which the Feminist Majority supports,
is counterinsurgency phrasing for
keeping the population surrounded by barbed wire, floodlights, blast walls and subject to check points and retinal scanners
while, a short distance away, the killing goes on.

[7] As for women’s rights, perhaps Condoleeza Rice could be named US ambassador to Kabul;
after all, she’s been on Chevron’s board and already has an oil tanker named after her.

[8] Seriously then, what to do about the fate of Afghan women?
Ending a military occupation through
a negotiated settlement among countries in the region, and parties in Afghanistan,
is the only way out of this latest adventure in The Long War.
Making any future economic or diplomatic assistance contingent upon
women’s rights to health care, child care, education and dignity
should be among the terms for a US and NATO withdrawal.
In all seriousness, top US officials in a future Kabul embassy
could be feminists linked to Afghan women’s groups.
Hillary Clinton knows how to be relentless if she chooses.
The struggle will be long and bitter, won in civil society, not on battlefields.
Even if all the Taliban are killed,
Afghanistan will be a deeply patriarchal Muslim country where change will emerge from outside and inside pressures.

[For other arguments, published in 1996 by Samuel Huntington, for non-intervention
see cc-
and cc-]

[9] These progressive initiatives could be advanced today by the Obama administration and Congress as civilian ones,
not as cover to solicit support for deeper military occupation.

[10] The Feminist Majority is being used by the Pentagon to advance its war aims.
Perhaps they believe they are using the Pentagon, though they don’t say it.
[I think that the probability that the Feminist Majority is “being used by the Pentagon” is absolute zero.
It’s the other way around.
“The Pentagon” in and of itself has absolutely no desire to fight a war in Afghanistan.
It is only there because American politicians sent it there.
Tom Hayden is being characteristically either a liar or a self-deceiver in not recognizing that fact.
Does Hayden really think that Army generals, or the bulk of the Army itself, wants to fight that war?
But Hayden always has been a clown on this issue]

One result is division and confusion within the peace movement. In soliciting support from genuine peace groups for Afghanistan, for example,
The Feminist Majority is less than candid that the funds are linked to the escalation of the war.

[11] The solution is more transparent and thorough discussion at the base of the peace movement,
where the possibility of a feminist coalition with the Special Forces should be hard to defend.

[That is the conclusion as it appears in the original,
but it would seem something got dropped; it does not make sense to me as it stands.]

For Afghan Women, Rights Again at Risk
By Rachel Reid < cite>Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-08-18

A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan
by Malalai Joya [a female Afghan politician]
Guardian (UK), 2009-11-30

If Barack Obama heralds an escalation of the war,
he will betray his own message of hope and deepen my people's pain

[The original document has many embedded links, most of which are omitted in this version.]

[1] After months of waiting, President Obama is about to announce the new US strategy for Afghanistan.
His speech may be long awaited, but few are expecting any surprise:
it seems clear he will herald a major escalation of the war.
In doing so he will be making something worse than a mistake.
It is a continuation of a war crime against the suffering people of my country.

[2] I have said before that by installing warlords and drug traffickers in power in Kabul,
the US and Nato have pushed us from the frying pan to the fire.
Now Obama is pouring fuel on these flames,
and this week’s announcement of upwards of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will have tragic consequences.

[3] Already this year we have seen the impact of an increase in troops occupying Afghanistan:
more violence, and more civilian deaths.
My people, the poor of Afghanistan who have known only war and the domination of fundamentalism,
are today

squashed between two enemies:
the US/Nato occupation forces on one hand
warlords and the Taliban on the other.

[4] While we want the withdrawal of one enemy,
we don’t believe it is a matter of choosing between two evils.
There is an alternative:
the democratic-minded parties and intellectuals
are our hope for the future of Afghanistan.

[Surely that is wishful thinking.]


It will not be easy, but if we have a little bit of peace
we will be better able to fight our own internal enemies –
Afghans know what to do with our destiny.
We are not a backward people, and we are capable of fighting for democracy, human and women’s rights in Afghanistan.
In fact
the only way these values will be achieved
is if we struggle for them and win them ourselves.

[6] After eight years of war, the situation is as bad as ever for ordinary Afghans, and women in particular.
The reality is that only the drug traffickers and warlords have been helped under this corrupt and illegitimate Karzai government.
Karzai’s promises of reform are laughable.
His own vice-president is the notorious warlord Fahim,
whom Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch describes as
“one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands”.

[7] Transparency International reports that this regime is the second most corrupt in the world. The UN Development Programme reports Afghanistan is second last – 181st out of 182 countries – in terms of human development. That is why we no longer want this kind of “help” from the west.

[8] Like many around the world,

I am wondering what kind of “peace” prize can be awarded to a leader
who continues the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan,
and starts a new war in Pakistan,
all while supporting Israel?

[9] Throughout my recent tour of the US,
I had the chance to meet many military families and veterans who are working to put an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They understand that it is not a case of a “bad war” and a “good war” – there is no difference, war is war.

[10] Members of Iraq Veterans Against War even accompanied me to meet members of Congress in Washington DC.
Together we tried to explain the terrible human cost of this war, in terms of Afghan, US and Nato lives.

only a few representatives really offered their support to our struggle for peace.


[14] ... Obama and [British Prime Minister Gordon] Brown have chosen to follow the Bush administration.
Instead of hope and change, in foreign policy Obama is delivering more of the same.
But I still have hope because, as our history teaches,
the people of Afghanistan will never accept occupation.


Letting Women Reach Women in Afghan War
New York Times, 2010-03-07

... These are not your mother’s Marines here in the rugged California chaparral of Camp Pendleton,
where 40 young women are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in one of the more forward-leaning [??] experiments of the American military.
Next month they will begin work as members of the first full-time
female engagement teams,”
the military’s name for four- and five-member units
that will accompany men on patrols in Helmand Province
to try to win over the rural Afghan women
who are culturally off limits to outside men.
The teams, which are to meet with the Afghan women in their homes,
assess their need for aid and gather intelligence,
are part of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s campaign for Afghan hearts and minds
[aspects of this are discussed here].
His officers say that you cannot gain the trust of the Afghan population
if you only talk to half of it. ...

Afghan women fear loss of hard-won progress
By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post, 2010-03-16

... The Taliban’s repressive treatment of women helped galvanize international opposition in the 1990s,
and by some measures democracy has revolutionized Afghan women’s lives.

Their worry now is not about a Taliban takeover, Hamidi said,
but that male leaders, behind closed doors and desperate for peace
[unlike these women],
might not force Taliban leaders to accept, however grudgingly, that women’s roles have changed.

[Thanks for clarifying exactly what we are fighting for.]
Those concerns share roots with the misgivings voiced by many observers, including some U.S. officials, about Afghan efforts to forge a settlement with the Taliban, whose leaders promote an Islamist ideology that seems wholly at odds with rights the Afghan constitution guarantees. ...
Hillary Clinton’s Remarks with Afghan Women Ministers 
Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton 
www.state.gov, 2010-05-13 

 ... I appreciate the fact that many women in Afghanistan are concerned about what reintegration and reconciliation will mean for them. 
It is essential – I have said this in London, I have said this in the United States, I will say this again at the Kabul conference – 
it is essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled on in the reconciliation process. 
I pledged to President Karzai that we would not abandon Afghanistan in its quest for peace and long-term stability, and we will not. 

 And I make the same pledge to the women of Afghanistan. 
We will not abandon you. 
We will stand with you always. 

I am so impressed and admiring of the contributions that women have made in all of Afghanistan’s history, but particularly in recent history and especially in the last years. 
[And the contributions Afghan men have made? Not worth mentioning. Talk about selective vision!] 
And I will be their partner and their supporter as they continue to make improvements in their lives and the lives of their children and families. 
Thank you very much. 
[For an answer to The WarBitch’s hubristic international and cross-civilizational social engineering, which would, if implemented, only place America in a state of perpetual war, click here
 But here is a question that the pathetic bunch of liars, con-artists, and fellow travelers of feminism and Zionism that the feminists and Zionists have managed to place in both political and informational dominance over America should be asking, loud and clear: 
Just who is this “We”, WarBitch? 
American commitments to foreign countries can, so far as I know, only be made by treaties passed by Congress. 
Further, to “stand with” Afghan women, if that means preventing Taliban rule over them, will, as The WarBitch should surely know, require an unending American military operation in South-Central Asia. 
Not only in Afghanistan, but as even such a pathetic liar as The WarBitch must know, but in Pakistan as well. 
Declaring war can only be done, constitutionally, by Congress. 
But what does the commitment that The WarBitch has made mean other than a permanent state of war for America? 
And not only in Asia. 
Those assaulted by the forces The WarBitch has set in motion will not take their pummeling lying down. 
They will, eventually, fight back, with retaliation against the homeland from which the assailants came. 
This war, yet another fought for the benefit of some women, will metastasize into endless trouble for the United States. 
So how can an American secretary of state make a statement 
“We will stand with [a specific group of people] always” 
without any commitment from Congress? 
But of course the left will, deceiving as usual, claim that the war was caused by “the military-industrial complex.” 
Another point: 
 Remember the concept of “exit strategy”? 
If Hillary’s commitment to the Afghan women goes unchallenged by our media/political “elite”, where is the possibility of exit? 
There is none, other than through the exhaustion of one of the sides. 
And there is no reason whatsoever to think the Afghans, with their Islamic supporters, can be worn down. 
So the alternatives are: perpetual war or a withdrawal leaving Hillary’s goals unachieved, but with yet more blood and treasure spent on each side, and yet more justification for Islamic counterattacks.  
Where is the flaw in this analysis? 
And if there is none, why in heaven’s name are the columnists and politicians not pointing this problem out?]
In Camouflage or Veil, a Fragile Bond By ELISABETH BUMILLER 
New York Times, 2010-05-29 

 ABDUL GHAYAS, Afghanistan — Two young female Marines trudged along with an infantry patrol in the 102-degree heat, soaked through their camouflage uniforms under 60 pounds of gear. But only when they reached this speck of a village in the Taliban heartland on a recent afternoon did their hard work begin. For two hours inside a mud-walled compound, the Marines, Cpl. Diana Amaya, 23, and Cpl. Lisa Gardner, 28, set aside their rifles and body armor and tried to connect with four nervous Afghan women wearing veils. Over multiple cups of tea, the Americans made small talk through a military interpreter or in their own beginner’s Pashtu. Then they encouraged the Afghans, who by now had shyly uncovered their faces, to sew handicrafts that could be sold at a local bazaar.
“We just need a couple of strong women,” Corporal Amaya said, in hopes of enlisting them to bring a measure of local commerce to the perilous world outside their door. Corporal Amaya’s words could also describe her own daunting mission, part of a program intended to help improve the prospects for the United States in Afghanistan — and also, perhaps, to redefine gender roles in combat. Three months ago, Corporal Amaya was one of 40 female Marines training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in an edgy experiment: sending full-time “female engagement teams” to accompany all-male foot patrols in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan to win over the Afghan women who are culturally off limits to American men. Enthusiasm reigned. “We know we can make a difference,” Capt. Emily Naslund, 27, the team’s executive officer, said then in an interview. ... 
[I fail to understand this. I can see that this has everything to do with feminizing the Afghan culture, but what on earth does it have to do with the American national interest? Is the new motto of the Marine Corps “The Few. The Proud. The Feminist.”? And by the way, do any American decision-makers any longer place any credence in this 1995 statement by Samuel Huntington?]
This is a note by the author of this blog to discuss some possible ramifications from several of the developments that are either occurring, or may occur, within DoD that could affect the effort in Afghanistan (and elsewhere). First, let us note the “female engagement teams” discussed in the above article. Second, let us hypothesize that the Obama administration does succeed in its goal of allowing homosexuals (gays and lesbians) to serve openly in the armed services. If that should occur, it would seem that some of the women in those “female engagement teams” would be lesbians. It is not out of the question that some of those teams, presumably small, might be all lesbian. How would the men of Afghanistan react to that situation? Here come a bunch of American lesbians to interact alone with our women. There are a whole range of possibilities the Afghan men could imagine, none of them good from his point of view. Note that homosexuality is forbidden in the strict version of Islam practiced by many of those men. Even if the American women do not do anything physically wrong, surely it is well within the realm of possibility that they would, directly or indirectly, encourage at least some Afghan women to practice lesbianism themselves.
Kurdistan Is Urged to Ban Genital Cutting By NAMO ABDULLA and TIMOTHY WILLIAMS 
New York Times, 2010-06-17  

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq — Human Rights Watch urged Kurdistan’s government on Wednesday to ban genital cutting of women and girls, a practice the organization said is widespread and dangerous there, but which they said Kurdish officials had failed to move aggressively to stop. Human Rights Watch, an advocacy organization based in New York, interviewed 31 girls and women last year and combined its findings with recent surveys by other organizations that found that at least 40 percent of girls and women in Iraq’s Kurdistan region had undergone the procedure, which typically involves cutting off external genitalia with a dirty razor blade. One of the studies, of about 1,400 girls and women interviewed during 2007 and 2008, found that almost 73 percent of women 14 years and older said that at least a portion of their genitals had been removed. The report criticized Kurdish lawmakers for failing to approve legislation to ban the practice, saying attempts in the past had fallen short because Kurdistan had not made the issue a priority. ... [As indicated repeatedly in the above document, I am far less hostile to the Taliban than the feminists are. But on the subject raised in this news article, the mutilation of female genitilia, I think that is sick and indeed a crime against human rights. I don’t know what the U.S. can do to stop this, but I would urge the U.S. to do everything it reasonably can to stop this practice. Why is U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton making a pledges to some women in Afghanistan that “we will support you always”, which seems to include vast military and financial expenditures, while little seems to be done to get the Kurds, who after all have received and continue to receive considerable aid from the U.S. to stop this practice? And have feminist groups opposed this practice with the same expenditure of political muscle as they have brought to bear to keep the U.S. from allowing a Taliban-friendly coalition government in Afghanistan?]
Here are three questions I wish polling companies would poll Americans on:
  1. Do you think the rights of women in Afghanistan to vote, go to school, etc.
    are a vital American national interest?
  2. Do you support U.S. Secretary of State Clinton’s statement
    (to the women of Afghanistan) that
    “We will not abandon you. We will stand with you always.”?
  3. Given the choice, would you favor that the U.S.
    1. Keeps fighting in Afghanistan until women's rights are recognized, or
    2. Strikes a deal with the Taliban that protects American security,
      but leaves the rights of Afghan women as they were
      before U.S. involvement?
Unlikely Tutor Giving Military Afghan Advice By ELISABETH BUMILLER 
New York Times, 2010-07-18 
 ... It reflected [Greg Mortenson’s] broad and deepening relationship with the United States military, whose leaders have increasingly turned to Mr. Mortenson, once a shaggy mountaineer, to help translate the theory of counterinsurgency into tribal realities on the ground. In the past year, Mr. Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute, responsible for the construction of more than 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly for girls, have set up some three dozen meetings between General McChrystal or his senior staff members and village elders across Afghanistan. The collaboration, which grew in part out of the popularity of “Three Cups of Tea” among military wives who told their husbands to read it, extends to the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Last summer, Admiral Mullen attended the opening of one of Mr. Mortenson’s schools in Pushghar, a remote village in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains. Mr. Mortenson ... has also spoken at dozens of military bases, seen his book go on required reading lists for senior American military commanders and had lunch with Gen. David H. Petraeus, General McChrystal’s replacement. On Friday he was in Tampa to meet with Adm. Eric T. Olson, the officer in charge of the United States Special Operations Command.

Mr. Mortenson, 52, thinks there is no military solution in Afghanistan — he says the education of girls is the real long-term fix — so he has been startled by the Defense Department’s embrace.

War, Women, and the Taliban 
by Charles Glass 
  Taki Magazine, 2010-07-19 
 The time has come to justify anew the war in Afghanistan, and excuses for keeping American and other NATO troops in combat there are coming hot and heavy in Washington and London. ... Minerals, new commanders, new local collaborators, new strategies. All are failing, not only to win the war, but to persuade the American and European public to support it. What else is left? Alas, women. Just when you thought there was no reason to prolong the nine-year war in central Asia, along comes a new excuse. A CIA memorandum of 11 March, “Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission – Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough,” (posted on Wikileaks) puts the propagandists’ case: “Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.” Hey, if no one is marching to Washington’s drumbeat on defeating terrorism, why not change the tune to “I Am Woman”? ...

Back in the 1980s, the Soviets urged Afghan men to accept female equality, sponsored schools for girls and permitted women to work.

Where are those schools and jobs today? Well, the militias that overthrew the pro-Soviet regime of President Mohammed Najibullah eliminated them. ...

Any element in a society that depends on an unwelcome foreign occupier becomes the object of revenge when the occupier departs.

This happened to the right-wingers in post-Vichy France, the Harkis when the French left Algeria and to the Hmong when the US pulled out of southeast Asia. It will happen again to Afghan women.... “We must not abandon them again,” Ms. Garland writes of Afghanistan’s beleaguered women. ...

Waging the western onslaught against the Taliban in their name will make Afghan women appear as collaborators with the foreigners most Afghans want expelled from their country as soon as possible.

To use Afghan women’s plight that cynically is the worst betrayal.
Afghan Women Fear Loss of Modest Gains By ALISSA J. RUBIN 
New York Times, 2010-07-31

 ... As Afghan and Western governments explore reconciliation with the Taliban, women fear that the peace they long for may come at the price of rights that have improved since the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001. “Women do not want war, but none of them want the Taliban of 1996 again; no one wants to be imprisoned in the yards of their houses,” said Rahima Zarifi, the Women’s Ministry representative from the northern Baghlan Province. Interviews around the country with at least two dozen female members of Parliament, government officials, activists, teachers and young girls suggest a nuanced reality — fighting constricts women’s freedoms nearly as much as a Taliban government, and conservative traditions already limit women’s rights in many places. Women, however, express a range of fears about a Taliban return, from political to domestic — that they will be shut out of negotiations about any deals with the insurgents and that the Taliban’s return would drive up bride prices, making it more profitable for a family to force girls into marriage earlier. For many women, the prospect of a resurgence of the Taliban or other conservative groups is stark. “It will ruin our life,” said Shougoufa, 40, as she sorted through sequins and gold sparkles at the bazaar in the city of Pul-i-Khumri in Afghanistan’s north. ... Women’s advocates are concerned that they are increasingly being shut out of political decisions. At an international conference in Kabul on July 20, which was meant to showcase the country’s plans for the future, President Hamid Karzai said nothing about how women’s rights might be protected in negotiations. The very first meeting on negotiations, held by Mr. Karzai on July 22 with former leaders who had fought the Taliban, did not include a single woman, despite government pledges. When asked, government officials said that women would be included in later sessions. Although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has also pledged that she will not desert Afghan women and that

any deal with the Taliban that traded peace for women’s rights was “a red line,”

women remain wary. ... Afghanistan’s women have long led exceptionally constrained lives. The combination of a male-dominated tribal culture in which women have been often treated as little more than chattel, combined with a conservative practice of Islam and a nationwide lack of education, meant that long before the Taliban arrived in the mid-1990s, women had few opportunities beyond the home. The mujahedeen leaders who forced out the Soviets in the late 1980s were as conservative as the Taliban in many places, keeping women at home in order to preserve family honor instead of educating them or integrating them into the government. ... This chance at determining a little of their future is what they fear will be threatened if the Taliban return through a negotiated peace settlement. “They will beat us and forbid us from this freedom, the freedom to come here, to this class; they will stop us from doing things,” said Biboli, 16, a girl with long brown hair barely covered by a thin white veil. The greatest fear is that no one is really listening, said Habiba Shamim, one of the instructors. “Please,” she pleaded. “Carry our words to people.” [Well, a front-page story in the New York Times would seem to do just that. But be sure to note that all Afghan women, and all Muslim women, are surely not in agreement on women's liberation issues. For example, see what you get when you google Lady Taliban. Or consider the requests of some (many?) European women to wear a veil.]
The Plight of Afghan Women: A Disturbing Picture By Richard Stengel, Time Managing Editor Time, 2010-07-29 Our cover image this week is powerful, shocking and disturbing. It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman.... I thought long and hard about whether to put this image on the cover of TIME. ... We do not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war effort or in opposition to it. [I would submit that that statement is risible. They ran the image on the cover of Time to generate support for prolonging the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and to generate resistance for cutting a deal with the Taliban that would reduce the terrorist threat to the U.S. from Afghanistan but give the Taliban social control of their own country.]
Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban By Aryn Baker Time, 2010-07-29 [The article behind the cover. It features assertions such as this:] For Afghanistan’s women, an early withdrawal of international forces could be disastrous. [As written, that is obviously untrue. Reliable reporting has shown that Afghan women are not in agreement on this subject. Some (indeed, most of those discussed in the MSM) do oppose a return of the Taliban. However, even in the MSM, some have been mentioned who desire a return of the Taliban. No generalization to “Afghanistan’s women” (which means all Afghan women) is valid. For an example of a prominent Afghan woman who opposes NATO intervention in Afghanistan, see 2009-11-30-Guardian-Joya-Obama. (Note, however, that that appeared, not in an American publication, but in a British one.) After reading Ms. Joya’s views and pleas, is it not clear that the Time magazine quote above is a vile lie? And while some Americans may think nothing is more important than protecting Afghan women from the demands of their men, some others are even more concerned about issues such as this. The remainder of the paragraph in the Time story is pure, one-sided feminist propaganda. Well, at least that story is clear: pure propaganda.]
On Time cover, Afghan woman symbolizes war stakes Associated Press, 2010-08-04 With unsparing Time cover photo, mutilated Afghan woman becomes new emblem of war's stakes
Western wars vs. Muslim women By Marwan Bishara blogs.aljazeera.net, 2010-08-05 [0.1] Western media is awash with reports about Taliban mistreatment of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan that feature countless voices in support of the war to secure a ‘brighter future for women’s rights’. This week’s Time magazine cover story is a case in point. [0.2] If Western wars ‘liberate’ Eastern women, Muslim women would be - after centuries of Western military interventions - the most ‘liberated’ in the world. They are not, and will not be, especially when liberty is associated with Western hegemony. [0.3] Afghanistan has had its share of British, Russian and American military intervention to no avail. In fact, reports from credible women’s groups there signal worsening conditions for Aghan women since the US invasion a decade ago. [0.4] The Taliban’s social norms might be an affront to modern values, but they cannot be replaced summarily with Western values, let alone by force. [0.5] If, as General Petreaus insists, US soldiers should “live” with Afghans in order to defeat the insurgency, expect more hostility towards the foreign invaders and their values.
White Man’s Burden
[1.1] The same Orientalist civilising rationale that was used over centuries to justify bloody colonial wars is being used nowadays to manipulate a war-averse public into supporting military escalation in Central Asia. [1.2] Western man’s long-held fantasy of ‘rescuing’ veiled women from their repressive captors is being exploited to promote the idea that war can free women from the wrath of the ‘bearded terrorists’, as it ‘liberates America’ from their terrorism. [1.3] In light of such a heavy dose of surplus morality, it was particularly embarrassing for US leaders that their allies were making amends with the same shunned illiberal groups and practices. [1.4] Last year, the Obama administration publically scolded Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, for recognising Sharia in the tiny Swat valley as an “abdication” to the Taliban and rebuked Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, for signing a law that reportedly permits rape in marriage among the country’s Shia minority. Never mind that until recently, marital rape was legal in the UK and US, where it is still not treated as ordinary rape in a number of states. [1.5] Those who seek military solutions to social problems fail to make the distinction between Islam and the Taliban or between the cultural and religious aspects of life in Central Asia. Furthermore, they fail to explain why or how women’s rights can be attained by military means. [1.6] After all, the great majority of Pakistanis and Afghans have already voted against the Taliban - and in the case of Pakistan in favour of a secular party headed by a Westernised woman, the late Benazir Bhutto, who was allegedly assassinated by the Taliban. Indeed the founders of Pakistan were no less secular than many of their Western counterparts. [1.7] Recent months have shown that the Pakistani government is capable of confronting the Taliban when necessary. And when Pakistani television showed the public flogging of a 17-year-old woman, it led to widespread outrage among the more than 170 million Pakistanis. [1.8] For decades, Pakistanis and Afghans were the victims of the medieval styled Taliban, Mujahedeen and warlords who were backed and armed by the US through the Pakistani and Saudi intelligence services. [1.9] In fact, for much of the 20th century Western-led or supported military interventions in the greater Middle East have, intended or otherwise, targeted mostly the national secular regimes in the region - from Iran’s Musaddeq to Egypt’s Nasser through Iraq’s Hussein, not to speak of Afghanistan’s Soviet installed Najibullah.
White Woman’s Burden
[2.1] The irony escapes the likes of conservative British politician Cyril Townsend who wrote in the Saudi owned pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat under the headline “Women’s Rights in Afghanistan” that British female soldiers are fighting for women’s rights to be realised there. [2.2] No explanation has been offered as to why, 18 years after the deployment of half a million US and British troops to liberate Kuwait and defend their ally Saudi Arabia, Saudi women still cannot vote or drive. [2.3] Similar cheering was expressed in 2001 by Laura Bush and Cherie Blair in support of the “war to liberate the women of Afghanistan”, when in reality they were promoting their men’s war, not women’s rights. [2.4] Time magazine joined the war choir this week with a plea not to forget the plight of Afghan women. Richard Stengel, the magazine’s managing editor, wrote that he did not run this story or show this image “either in support of the US war effort or in opposition to it”. Perhaps, but

the cover story contributes to justifying the war on humanitarian ‘civilising’ grounds instead of criticising it on those same grounds.

[2.5] A century after English poet Rudyard Kipling first invoked the ‘White Man’s Burden’ to explain the US’ invasion and occupation of the Philippines, Washington and London continue to justify their military interventions, and occupation, on more of the same debunked falsehoods. [2.6] It is scandalous that after the sham of the ‘White Man’s Burden’ was exposed with the blood of millions, more of the same violence is justified under the pretext of a ‘White Man and Woman’s Burden’. [2.7] This is especially the case when many advocate the bombing of other cultures into social parity or cultural affinity with the West. [???] Such dangerous eschatology that hopes to build on destruction will end up destroying entire Muslim societies for the charade of attaining women’s liberty as the West fancies it.
Victims of the ultimate power abuse, wars
[3.1] As the foremost victims of the abuse of power, Western women are uniquely positioned to reject the most patriarchal and destructive of all power abuses: Wars. [3.2] As for Muslim women, there is no room in this war for what they stand for, their hopes or aspirations. Their voice is progressively silenced by the deafening sound of bombs and explosions. [3.3] Eastern women have been the first civilian casualty of wars. How many mourning widows, mothers, sisters and daughters will it take to reject wars of choice and expose their alleged civilising mission? After decades of war, Iraq and Afghanistan are now nations of widows - five million and counting, according to some reports. [3.4] Remember the mistreatment of women stops at no cultural or geographic borders. Paradoxically, in the US, violence against women in war veteran families is three to five times higher than in average families. This is literally a ‘White Woman’s Burden’. [3.5] Many women enlist in the military to attain equality with men, and more of them have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan than ever before. But I agree with those who seek to undo a man-made world of wars altogether. [3.6] At any rate, men do not go to war to save women. Rather, according to war historian Martin Van Creveld, men go to war to run away from their wives and families in search of ecstasy. Not exactly a woman’s cause now, is it? [I have no idea what van Creveld (who, interestingly enough, is an Israeli) really said. But I am quite sure that is not a major reason that wars are fought.]
Saving Women and Preventing Genocide: The Real Reasons We’re in Afghanistan Now by Bretigne Shaffer LewRockwell.com, 2010-08-10
Women, the Taliban and That 'Time' Cover by Robert Dreyfuss The Nation Blog, 2010-08-12 The latest entry into the trumped-up debate over the fate of women in Afghanistan comes from Judy Bachrach, an editor at Vanity Fair. It’s all part and parcel of a campaign, by some well-meaning people and some not so well-meaning, to justify America’s failing counterinsurgency policy in that devastated nation by raising the banner of women’s rights, a debate kicked off by the now ubiquitous Time magazine cover photograph of an Afghan woman whose face was mutilated, allegedly by a Taliban-allied, reactionary tribal potentate. Referring to a CNN interview of Nancy Pelosi by Christiane Amanpour, Bachrach writes:
For effect she shoved the photo of the mutilated face right under the speaker’s startled gaze, adding: “To put it right down to its basics, is America going to abandon the women of Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan, again?” “To put it right down to its basics— Yes, Christiane. We are. You can bet your ass Nancy’s not going to tell you this, in fact she’ll tell you nothing at all substantive on your show in response to any of your questions, but abandonment is the American way.”
To her credit, Bachrach does go on to admit that [I would assert that “admit” is the wrong word. The right word is “claim”, and that is a significant difference.] the United States is not in Afghanistan because of the plight of its women but, as Pelosi told Amanpour, “because it’s in our own strategic national interest.” [Really? Just why is our being in Afghanistan in our “strategic national interest”? Many very knowledgeable see absolutely no American national interest in Afghanistan. Is Speaker Pelosi arguing that if we don’t occupy it, terrorists will launch strikes against American from it? There are many counters to that argument. I think the “strategic national interest” argument is bunk, and those who make it are only covering up for their real interests, which is either to keep American and conservative Muslims perpetually at war for the benefit of Israel, or to advance the feminist interest, or both.] But, since the Time cover hit the newsstands, it’s allowed proponents of the war to argue that America has a moral obligation to defend that country’s woman against the predatory nature of the Taliban. [Just why, Mr. Dreyfuss, do you believe those "proponents of the war" advocate war?]
Afghanistan must embrace women's rights By Laura W. Bush Washington Post Op-Ed, 2010-10-10


In Afghanistan, U.S. shifts strategy on women's rights as it eyes wider priorities By Rajiv Chandrasekaran Washington Post, 2011-03-06 ... Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promised last month that the United States “will not . . . support a political process that undoes the social progress that has been made in the past decade.” [If anyone wonders why the war is dragging on, there is the answer. The question all responsible people should ask of both Hillary and her nominal boss, President Obama, is: How many American men and women are you willing to see die (or be grievously injured) for your feminist objectives?]
Clinton: U.S. will keep helping Afghan women By Rajiv Chandrasekaran Washington Post, 2011-03-10 [1] Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday that the U.S. government will not back away from supporting women’s rights in Afghanistan, despite the removal of some gender-equity provisions from two large U.S. Agency for International Development programs in the war-torn nation. [2] Clinton told a House panel that the U.S. commitment to Afghan women remains undiminished and that the United States is “currently providing more support than at any time in our government’s history” for education, health-care and political empowerment programs. [3] “We believe strongly that supporting women and girls is essential to building democracy and security,” she said. [4] Clinton spoke in response to a question from Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) about a Washington Post article on Sunday that described how specific requirements aimed at assisting women were stripped from two USAID programs in Afghanistan, one focused on land reform and the other on municipal governance. The article also quoted a senior U.S. government official as saying that “gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities.” [5] “This is, quite frankly, unacceptable,” Lowey said. “Any progress we’ve made in Afghanistan with regard to women’s rights will be quickly rolled back by the [Afghan] government and others if we do not continue to emphasize the importance of gender equality.” [6] Clinton said the official, who was not identified in the article, did not reflect administration policy. But she did not address the changes made by USAID in the two programs. [7] Promoting gender equity in Afghanistan, Clinton noted, “is really hard. And there are deep cultural challenges to doing this work.” But she said the United States has made “real progress.”
A continuing struggle: Empowering Afghan women Washington Post Letters to the Editor, 2011-03-11

Letters from
Donald Steinberg, Washington
(The writer is deputy administrator of USAID.)
Karl F. Inderfurth, McLean
(The writer is a former assistant secretary of state for South Asian Affairs and currently a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.)

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