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As the US and other ISAF troops prepare to leave Afghanistan women in Afghanistan wonder what will happen to them? Don't get me wrong, neither I nor many Afghans in general want the foreign troops there forever. But what I think most Afghan (in particular women) worry about is how many of their hard earned rights will be traded away and are quite upset with their lack of participation in talks with foreign and Afghan governments regarding continued aid etc.

Girl from Helmand in IDP camp in Kabul. By: Kim OConnor

In the recent days I have read quite a few articles about this, for example:

As Nato pullout looms, Afghan women face uncertain future
In March 2012, the Ulema Council’s declaration regarding women, and Karzai’s reverberation of the same declaration, led many to believe that that Afghanistan is once again moving towards the same era of Talibanisation. Part 1C, Section F of the declaration stated that women ‘should avoid mingling with stranger men in various social situations, such as education, shopping, the office and other affairs of life.’ Part D goes on to say: ‘Men are fundamental and women are secondary; also, lineage is derived from the man.’  The declaration, in addition, condemns violence against a women ‘without a Shariah-compliant reason’ – not addressing the likelihood of domestic violence in response to a Shariah-compliant reason.

President Karzai publicly endorsed the declaration by the Council terming it as “reiterating Islamic principles and values.” Many believe that President Karzai’s desire to end the Taliban insurgency through peace talks would cost women to compromise their hard-won rights of 2001.There exists a rising fear that if the Taliban are allowed to rejoin the Afghan government and society without accountability for their actions in the last decade, the country would once again see the public stonings, hangings and beheadings that marked their time in power previously.

“If Afghanistan sees a new era with warlords in the governmental system, we can’t do anything for women rights as these warlords are the biggest violators and oppressors,” says Shama. Her words draw attention to the fact that although women have a higher stake in the outcome of peace negotiations with the Taliban and the development of government policy, their visibility in the process hardly reflects this.

Afghanistan set up a Peace Council that is supposed to navigate how they can negotiate with the Taliban (those willing to talk that is, which does not include Omar or others in Quetta Pakistan). The problem is the women were sidelined as usual, but they did their best to fight back.
The 70-member High Peace Council, which has been struggling to carve out a role in the negotiations since the assassination of its chief, Burhanuddin Rabbani, last year, has nine women.

Safi, who is also a member of parliament from the northern province of Balkh, said women were not opposed to holding negotiations with the Taliban so long as rights enshrined in the constitution were protected.

She said the women on the peace council had set up a committee to ensure issues related to women were addressed by the council in negotiations with the Taliban.

"Our mission is to figure out how to keep the role of women active in the High Peace Council and not have our presence serve only as a statistic," she said.

While attention has been focused on the Taliban, women in Afghanistan had concerns that the Karzai administration itself may give up some of the gains made in recent years, she said.

In some parts of the country the Taliban are already in control of law and order, and their swift justice, while offensive to us, is quick and without corruption (you cannot buy your way out of punishment with the Taliban, unlike the official "justice" system)

Afghan woman accused of adultery shot dead in public

A man Afghan officials say is a member of the Taliban shot dead a woman accused of adultery in front of a crowd near Kabul, a video obtained by Reuters showed, a sign that the austere Islamist group dictates law even near the Afghan capital.

... fears are rising among Afghan women, some lawmakers and rights activists that such freedoms could be traded away as the Afghan government and the United States pursue talks with the Taliban to secure a peaceful end to the war.

Violence against women has increased sharply in the past year, according to Afghanistan's independent human rights commission. Activists say there is waning interest in women's rights on the part of President Hamid Karzai's government.

"After 10 years (of foreign intervention), and only a few kilometres from Kabul … how could this happen in front of all these people?" female lawmaker Fawzia Koofi said of the public execution in Parwan.

"This is happening under a government that claims to have made so much progress in women's rights, claims to have changed women's lives, and this is unacceptable. It is a huge step backwards," said Koofi, a campaigner for girls' education who wants to run in the 2014 presidential election.

Salangi said two Taliban commanders were sexually involved with the woman in Parwan, either through rape or romantically, and decided to torture her and then kill her to settle a dispute between the two of them.

"They are outlaws, murderers, and like savages they killed the woman," he said, adding that the Taliban exerted considerable sway in his province.

Earlier the same week a woman and two of her children were beheaded by her divorced husband.

Where are the candidates on this issue? Unfortunately we hear very little about women in Afghanistan from President Obama or Mitt Romney. From the UK Telegraph:

The ‘war on women’ being waged in Afghanistan

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have accused one another of waging a "war on women" in America. But both are silent on the real war against women being waged by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
If still unmoved by these recent attacks, both American candidates should spare a thought for fellow politician Fawzia Koofi, for whom dodging Taliban bullets and grenades is part of daily life in her campaign to become President of Afghanistan in 2014. Koofi is the first woman to have been elected into Afghanistan’s parliament – in fact she was elected twice. Yet she fears for her life; several years ago she was shot at while on the road with her two daughters. Koofi remains caught between trying to shelter her children from the Taliban’s threats and attempted attacks, and preparing them to face life alone, should her tormentors be successful.
But when asked what America’s policy would be towards women throughout withdrawal from Afghanistan, a senior State Department officer gave a shrug of an answer, dismissing women’s rights in Afghanistan as a "pet project" rather than a priority.
Using women as pawns in presidential power struggles – both in the West and Afghanistan and as collateral damage to the gains of withdrawal – is a far cry from the freedoms the West claims to stand for. Obama needs to pick the right side in the real war on women.

The article recounts some recent events in Afghanistan. I would really like to hear what Obama and Romney plan to do to get our military home, while doing what we can to help keep the hard earned rights gained by so many Afghans since we got there.

*The Taliban are doing everything they can to close as many schools as possible before the 2014 pullout. (A girls school run by the organization i volunteer with was just shut by the Taliban in Wardak, so I know this is happening first hand.) At least 600 schools have been shut in recent months.

*Hundreds of schoolgirls were sickened by poisoned water at their school well.

*125 girls and three teachers poisoned in their school by some type of gas. A few days later the same school had 40 more students sickened.

*At another school, another school 160 girls were poisoned.

*Boys are not immune either, over 400 were sickened at their school in Khost province.

*In another incident, pupils from a mixed school in southern Afghanistan had to watch as their teacher and headmaster were executed for refusing to follow the Taliban’s warnings to stop educating girls.

There are many more instances of these attacks, most never make it into English language news sources.

While many men in Afghanistan are what we could consider very backwards in their views on women and their rights, the younger generation is changing this dynamic. Thanks to education and access to the internet and international news and TV programs, I fully believe that they can find a good balance between tradition and oppression. Their main roadblock is war. If there is another civil war the younger generation will find it much harder, many will leave the country. This is what happened in the late 70's through the 80's, the educated left.

This would be a shame, as the young people I know there are so driven, work so hard on getting their education and job experience and really want a peaceful and normal life with their families.

In this story the author runs into a student at Kabul University who had recently been released after being kidnapped and tortured by the Taliban. The student insisted on carrying the author's box of books.

By the looks of the boy, I was not sure he could hold my books. He was malnourished and about 20 pounds lighter than the last time I saw him. I told the student that I could carry the load. Refusing to let me do the work, he grabbed the box and said, “Teacher, don’t worry about these heavy books. I carried around ammunition and weapons for the Taliban for the last month. I know I have lost some weight during my time in prison, and my skin looks dark, but I have gotten so much stronger. Give me your books!” How could I argue with that? I relinquished the books.
My young, cheery driver does just this; he lives his life by his own rules. According to tradition, because he only finished high school and has a low-paying job, he should marry a girl of the same status. But he refused to follow this path.

He said, “…Because I am such a determined boy, I [married] the most beautiful girl in the world!” His wife graduated from university with her degree in pharmacy and now manages a store in Canada. My driver smiled shyly in the rearview mirror when he informed me that his wife drives herself to work. When I asked him if he minded that she was independent, he told me that he loves her a lot and is proud of her. “Nothing else matters.” He said.

But how does he keep in contact with her? Nonchalantly, he told me, “I chat with her on Facebook four times on Fridays. I wake up, do my ablutions and pray, then run to my computer to call her. Each time I pray, I finish quickly and call her!”

Without any higher education, without social status, access to libraries, and with a meager salary, my driver has found a way to fill his own hands with happiness.

I do not know what is going to happen in the coming years in Afghanistan, but my worst fear is that another civil war will break out, turning back so much of the progress that has been realized there.

I am writing this today to ask everyone to consider the human beings we will leave behind there and consider our responsibility to them. We and other countries have used Afghanistan to fight our proxy wars for many years now, leaving their nation in ruin. I think the world has a responsibility to the Afghan people. At the very least help them get the education and opportunities they need to prosper and succeed. I know they can do it if given the chance.

Originally posted to kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, and RaceGender DiscrimiNATION.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for reading (26+ / 0-)

    Please do not make this diary into an argument about if we should have gone into Afghanistan or not.

    I am just wondering how we can get out while at the same time doing what we can to help the Afghan people.

    I am not sure how we can accomplish this, but hope progressives would not forget the real people we leave behind.

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:15:52 PM PDT

    •  We probably can't. We are either in or out. And (2+ / 0-)

      it's clear that we need to be out at this point.

      •  I agree we need the military to leave (5+ / 0-)

        But am not willing to just walk away and give up on the people there.

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

        by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:22:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But what can we do? We can and will provide (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade, allenjo

          some aid and stuff like this but we can't run the country for them.

          •  We are involved in the negotiations (5+ / 0-)

            with the Taliban etc. Thus far I have heard good things from Secretary Clinton, but fear that our government will be too quick to give up on womens rights in particular with these fundamentalist criminals.

            so far, the record is not good in this respect!

            Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

            by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:33:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again, we are not the one who needs to be (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Garrett, allenjo

              the main negotiators with Taliban. Afghans themselves will do that. If they don't respect women's rights, I don't see how we can force them to.

              •  We are not the main negotiatiors (5+ / 0-)

                and I am not saying we should be. But we have leverage, and at least were meeting with the Taliban ourselves.

                I want to know what the US government is willing to give up in these talks. I am not convinced human rights is anywhere near a top issue.

                Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

                by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:46:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Taliban and HiG attitude sure seems to be, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FG, Glen The Plumber

                they want to deal with the U.S., because we hold the real power.

                This would be at the "negotiations about negotiations" level.

                Parsing out what is really happening in the negotiations, from the media, is extremely difficult. But that particular position seems reasonable to believe.

              •  I agree, FG We cannot run their country (0+ / 0-)

                Aid packages coming for Afghans, from many countries, so not like they are being abandoned, with more controls on where the money goes.

                It is always sad when women do not have rights, as just in this country not long ago.

                But it is up to the Afghans to govern their country.

                "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

                by allenjo on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 10:01:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I think it makes a very big difference, (3+ / 0-)

            how we leave, for the future Afghanistan.

            And we certainly won't be walking away entirely. How we remain is also important.

            •  BINGO (4+ / 0-)

              I would like to think we can learn from history and keep values that honor human rights as a priority.

              Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

              by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:04:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  How? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FG, allenjo

                In concrete terms, how would we do that?

                •  I wish I had a simple template (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Glen The Plumber

                  What I do know is that the US government has and will continue to negotiate with the Afghans, the Taliban, Pakistan, etc. in an effort to end the violence and likelihood of a return of al Qaeda to the region.

                  I also know that after we used Afghanistan in the 80's in our proxy war against the Soviets we walked away after arming the most fundamentalist and violent groups.

                  I know that we have recently created localized and barely trained militias across the nation, which I am unsure we can disband at this point.

                  I know we helped put some of the worst war criminals into high office there, some who are likely to start a new civil war once ISAF disbands and leaves.

                  The only thing we can really do now is use our leverage and lessons from the past in picking priorities today as they negotiate with all parties, and consider future funding.

                  Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

                  by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:33:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Can I make it into another argument? (7+ / 0-)

      What if the United States had spent 10 years, several billion dollars, and the coordinated efforts of thousands of dedicated men and women improving Afghanistan's infrastructure, strengthening its social fabric, and building a nation, instead of making the rubble bounce with our enormous weapons?

      We had a very vocal segment of our country scoff at the very notion of nation-building, but their preferred choice - war - hasn't made much of a difference at all to the people of Afghanistan. Peaceniks were told that nation-building was too expensive, took too long, and there was no guarantee of a good result. Oh, and we were a bunch of lily-livered cowardly traitors.

      Other people who think the way I do had and have all kinds of ideas to improve the lot of the Afghan people. But we're not the ones in charge, and we don't get a say in how the United States conducts its foreign policy. Can we hear from John Bolton, Condi Rice, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney? Or the Man Called Petraeus?

      •  We could have spent much less with better results (5+ / 0-)

        But hindsight is 20/20. What I wonder is what are our options today?

        I think the notion of any big nation building cash from the US is highly unlikely. What I want is to see us keep human rights at the top of a list of MUST CONSIDER items when decisions are made moving forward.

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

        by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:40:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Except . . . (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kimoconnor, poco, Glen The Plumber

          It's not hindsight when people were seeing quite clearly in 2002 that launching an invasion of Afghanistan wasn't going to do any good, would waste a whole lot of money and lives, and almost certainly leave the country in worse shape than before.

          That aside, I don't think the United States has any credibility left to do anything in Afghanistan. What might be useful would be to have an international coalition of countries with a mandate to re-build the nation of Afghanistan, beginning with infrastructure (roads, electricity, water, etc.) with an eye toward setting Afghanistan on a path to self-rule, including free, fair and open elections, guarantees of basic human rights for all, and moving toward a society based on their common interests as Afghans, rather than historic tribal identification. Who would lead and guide such a coalition, I have no idea; humanity seems quite short of humanitarians right now.

          The coalition should be funded by the United States, its NATO allies, and Russia, at levels commensurate with those countries' occupation expenditures during the 1980s and 2000s. Yeah, it'd never happen, but if we were the country we claim to be, it's the least we could do to help atone for our sins of empire.

  •  It's not just the Taliban that doles out this (5+ / 0-)

    kind of punishment. In Naray, we were next to several communities that were very supportive of the U.S. presence, even assisting us on patrols and such. Their elders also executed a woman for adultery and whipped the man publicly. "Justice" is extremely harsh in the countryside, and I don't remember us trying to do anything about it. Of course, it is six years now since I was there, so perhaps you are more informed about the current situation.

    "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

    by ranger995 on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:31:05 PM PDT

    •  You are not wrong on these types of things (4+ / 0-)

      happening there, even today. While according to the Afghan law, what they did was illegal there is no way the US can stop all of the violence there.

      The only thing the US can do is to insist that women are involved in the peace process, keep human rights as a major issue when negotiating with the Taliban and insurgents who have considerable power.

      It worries me that we do not hear more than offhand comments on human rights when our government officials talk about how to move forward in Afghanistan.

      We do still have leverage there.

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:37:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Neighbors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If the Taliban regains control of the country after the US-led ISAF leaves, then I do not know how the world can provide the education and opportunities the Afghans need. That said, I think Afghanistan's neighbors could make a difference.

    If it were not for being predominantly Shi'a, I think Iran could provide a model for the Taliban to adopt. And although, as the LA Times reported, "Iranian woman have fewer legal rights than men and are limited in which jobs they can hold and what they can wear. But more of them are attending universities and postponing childbirth. In public universities, female students now outnumber males 65% to 35%, leading to calls in parliament for affirmative action for men." Iranian women are seeing progress.

    Pakistan, which is Sunni majority, could help, but I think their country is too messed-up currently to be a positive model for Afghanistan. Plus, they have a history of backing the Taliban and meddling with Afghan politics.

    Failing help from their neighbors, I wonder how many Afghan women and girls would just want to leave their country? With an estimated 15 million females, there wouldn't be many Taliban left in a generation-or-two if most of the Afghan women were assisted with exiting the country.

    I honestly do not know how the U.S. can help anymore. Our help hasn't been stellar for the past decade.

    •  Pakistan is a big part of the problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Magnifico, Glen The Plumber

      and highly unlikely to help.

      Get this: Pakistan wants to force millions of Afghans out of Pakistan by the end of this year. Many, if not most have been born in Pakistan and have never seen Afghanistan.

      Afghanistan has relations with Iran, but I do not see them doing anything regarding human rights in Afghanistan!

      In other words, the neighbors are not much help, and in the case of Pakistan in particular, is a huge hindrance to progress.

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:44:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  china and india (5+ / 0-)

      have huge financial stakes in afghanistan, and certainly need to step up. nato should fund massive humanitarian aid, but the reality is that in a time of austerity-drive economic implosion, that's not likely. money for wars appears as if by magic; humanitarian aid is considered frivolous.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:50:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  India has done a lot of reconstruction (4+ / 0-)

        and other types of aid. But of course the issue with Pakistan and India makes this trickier than it should be.

        China is involved and has sent a lot of aid. Though I wish they were better at environmental issues when they get their mining concessions!

        It is sad but we could have spent a hell of a lot less and left the Afghans in a better place.

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

        by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:55:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Money bombs (5+ / 0-)

        Humanitarian aid will still require a security presence. The Karzai government has not demonstrated they can provide this.

        So, I'm not sure how to provide the massive humanitarian aid that is needed without keeping ISAF in place. Obama had a humanitarian/nation building plan, his "civilian surge" but it got sidetracked by his military surge.

        The money bomb should have happened in 2002-2008. Obama tried to get a do-over in 2009, but I think only the U.S. military believed that was possible. What can be done for Afghanistan today and going forward, especially with U.S. and Western troop withdrawal, I think is limited. We can insist on terms and guarantees for human rights once we're gone, but honestly does anyone think the Taliban will honor them?

  •  Thanks kimoconnor for this nuanced look (4+ / 0-)

    at the situation in Afghanistan. It's really unfortunate that so often women are the ones who suffer from wars started and conducted by men. I would think that even those who think we should just pull everyone out with no regard to the personal suffering of Afghani women would agree that if nothing else it cannot be in our national security interest to just let the old (male) guard take over again.

    I'm not sure what the solution is, but as someone from a country that had U.S. Forces in it for several decades I know that a gradual disengagement is often the best and only way to ensure that the initial engagement wasn't in vain.

    It may have been wrong to invade Afghanistan in the first place (I for one was against it) but once you've done it I think there's a responsibility to make sure the people in that country will be better off in the long run than they would have been if they hadn't been invaded. At least that's the case if the objective is to be the good guys, which seems to apply to Americans, at least rhetorically.  

  •  I suspect that any agreements in place (4+ / 0-)

    with the Taliban when we leave will be honored about as much as the Vietnamese honored the ones negotiated when we left there.

    It's a horrible situation, but if I had my druthers, every last soldier would be out of there tomorrow.  We will have no say in anything once we leave. Given that we are doing nothing that I know of to improve Afghan women's lot in preparation for us leaving vis a vis the Taliban and the rest of male-dominated Afghan society, is there any morality that can justify a continued presence in which our soldiers' lives and the lives of Afghans are put in jeopardy by our remaining?

    If you told me there was a good chance in two years (or four, or six) millions of Afghan women would be significantly better off then I could at least imagine justifying our continued participation in this debacle.  But I don't see it.

    •  actually the US will have sway even after we (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      navajo, Glen The Plumber


      You seem to infer I am advocating our troops stay, which I am not. I am not sure if you think we should walk away 100% (including aid) or not. I think we should prioritize human rights now and when our troops leave.

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 03:22:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What would be the sway ? (0+ / 0-)

        How can you influence the behavior of the male population with regards to using human rights towards their women and children (and their own prisoners - torture - and civilians - extortions -)  in daily life ?

        How do you prioritize human rights? What does that mean in practice ? If you don't enforce them to be adhered to, what else do you do - in practice - to prioritze on them?

        •  I would prioritize on (0+ / 0-)

          introducing new technologies and lots of humanitarian and infrastructure aid. Cell phones do wonder to social and family structural changes in rural areas. What the Taliban will not be able to oppress is the power of the mind of those women. I do believe that the change comes from the inside of the families triggered by economic and technological changes that make "old ways" inferior, weaker and ulitmately uncontrollable for those who want to keep them. I also do believe that the Afghan (or for that matter any women in ethnicities and cultures we don't belong to, don't understand fully, and have imo no role to judge) women know best how to fight for her rights and not necessarily the Western women, though I can see that Western women would be much more able to get access to Afghan women than men.

          I am all for supporting the women's human rights fights, I just would support only that what they ask us for help with and not suggest solutions that are born solely out of our own understanding. I don't believe necessarily in our wisdom to find solutions for them, but believe they will develop solutions on their own (and we should respect their solutions) and they just need to get access to us for implementing the catalysts that trigger the change. I don't really see why that would have to be done through military presense.

          Sorry, I can't express myself better.

          •  We do not disagree for the most part (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Garrett, mimi

            The US will continue to have influence to a point, especially when involved in negotiations with the Taliban and Pakistan etc.

            Cell phones are all over Afghanistan, in fact they work better there in the cities than my old iPhone worked in San Francisco! The problem is, the Taliban in some areas shuts down the service at night or when they feel necessary.

            If you knew me and my previous work you would know I am totally in favor of helping the Afghan people by doing what they need and ask for, not what I may think is best. This has not been the case with the military PRTs and USAID projects unfortunately.

            In other comments I suggested the US pressure the Afghan govt. to include more women in the Peace Council for example, and if needed, offer military aid based on certain benchmarks they must meet.

            I am not in favor of dictating or trying to make them into a mini-USA. I do know that with education and opportunity many Afghan men do change their old views. All it takes is having one daughter get educated and start an at home business that is helping to support the family to get these old men to see the benefit of treating women better!

            Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

            by kimoconnor on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 09:52:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  thanks, I hope I will be able to follow (0+ / 0-)

              your comments more consistantly and get a coherent picture of your opinions. My problem is that I can't read in an organized manner comments from various kossacks and remember (and often also comprehend) what their views are. I also can't read enough to really make any kind of relevant comment. My "political opinions" are mostly generated from personal observations I had in my life that are merely anecdotal for anybody else. With regards to trying to dictate our own views on Afghans and making them a mini-USA, I was thinking not so much along those lines.  

              Rather that I believe sometimes we can't make a jugement if the help we are offering can create a situation that is more dangerous to specifically women's daily life within their family structures they have to survive in (and to their children). I think sometimes our imagination about the unintended consequences of our actions is just not broad enough. Therefore I kind of tend to be hesitant to easily buy into our own wisdom and understanding of other cultures' social and family structures. That's all.

              I am trying to follow you now more pointedly.

              I love your last sentence. I hope the same is true for the "old" husbands of these women. :)

  •  this is a cultural problem (0+ / 0-)

    It probably predates Islam.  Even at the peak of our presence, we had little or no power to prevent it.  It won't be solved politically: decrees from a Westernized Kabul elite will go unheeded and democracy will likely only empower these same reactionary elements, either with votes or with another reason to attack democracy as a tool of Western "infidels".  

    Like our own conservatives, these people hate anything they think we like.  They think their system is commanded by God and just plain better than ours.  They think that men who can keep it in their pants aren't men at all, that women are all incorrigible sluts, and so it falls to fathers and husbands to keep everyone's sexuality in check; Western countries where men practice self-control and women can defend themselves or be defended by the state are doubly emasculating.  This is a culture with a long and "honorable" tradition of bride abduction, as well as a pervasive attitude that women are a commodity whose value is a function of her chastity and fidelity.  This is a culture that believes that a woman's body is not her own, but rather belongs to her family and her tribe, that what she does with it reflects on them, and even if she doesn't care, they do.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 03:36:58 PM PDT

    •  I disagree strongly (6+ / 0-)

      with this for example:

      these people hate anything they think we like.
      One of the reasons I wanted to write this was to get people thinking about the US responsibility to human rights and refrain from stereotyping all Afghans as some sort of savages.

      To suggest that Afghans hate anything we like is simply not true. To suggest their conservative views and culture will never change is not true. They do not have to be just like us, but things can improve.

      I assure you that many of the younger Afghans are growing up with a totally different idea of how to live than their elders' views. More access to education and the internet and films etc. do make a difference.

      The violence against women in Afghanistan and elsewhere is not cultural, it is criminal.

      I want my country to do what we can to help. I am simply not willing to just let women around the world suffer with the excuse there is nothing we can do.

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:02:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  An item to consider (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kimoconnor, Glen The Plumber
      U.S. female soldiers were viewed as having better attitudes and being more respectful and respected.

      A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility:
      A Red Team Study of Mutual Perceptions of Afghan National Security Force Personnel and U.S. Soldiers in Understanding and Mitigating the Phenomena of ANSF-Committed Fratricide-Murders

      •  There is a benefit to being a foreign woman there (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Garrett, mimi, Glen The Plumber

        I was able to mingle and speak with men there, and did not experience the groping or harassment that women face in other parts of the world. I was also able to mingle with the women, and speak with them away from all the Afghan men.

        I can see how even female troops would be able to get things done that men cannot in Afghanistan.

        Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

        by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:26:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't panic, Kim. (0+ / 0-)

    There's a lot of sensationalistic, doomsday-style, shoddy reporting going on in regards to Afghanistan.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 06:39:13 AM PDT

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