Sunday, March 06, 2011

Other Priorities

The US is standing down on womens' rights in Afghanistan. The plight of Afghan women is beyond desperate--30 years of war, denied access to education and medical care severe restrictions on personal choice, subservient to men in all spheres of life. I can't think of a hell on earth that would be less horrible. So improving womens' in Afghanistan has always been the one redeeming feature of US occupation. Even at that, the effort redeemed very little of America's war in Afghanistan but womens' rights were always there as some small salve for the national conscience.

No more.
"Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities," said the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations. "There's no way we can be successful if we maintain every special interest and pet project. All those pet rocks in our rucksack were taking us down."


"Nobody wants to abandon the women of Afghanistan, but most Americans don't want to keep fighting there for years and years," the official said. "The grim reality is that, despite all of the talk about promoting women's rights, things are going to have to give."

Aside from thinking of womens' rights as pet rocks, I agree with the official. Changing the fundamental laws and customs that govern relationships between men and women in Afghanistan is not a realistic objective for American military policy in Afghanistan. Womens' rights should remain an important objective for our diplomatic and cultural policies but not military and National (in)Security policy. But even at that remove, America may still be "radioactive", unlikely to even have the opportunity to the trust and credibility needed to effect real change. Any American efforts to strengthen womens' rights in Afghanistan will best be pursued through other nations and NGO's.

Now if American political and military leaders would only be so realistic...

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