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OK, headline is tongue-in-cheek. But there's a serious point here.

It's well known by sociologists that having large numbers of young, unmarried men is destabilizing to a society. Often they assemble into roving bands of lawless hoodlums that cause all kinds of trouble. They're prone to joining fanatic and/or paramilitary movements. We also know the old cliché is true: getting married tends to settle a man down.

On this particular score, the benighted country of Afghanistan has at least two strikes against it. Maybe three.

Here's what I mean:

Strike one: polygyny. As an Islamic republic under Sharia law, Afghanistan allows men to have up to four wives. And of course, every wife one man has is a wife that some other man can't have.

Women—especially poor, uneducated, powerless ones—naturally seek a measure of security and stability in their lives and the lives of their children. So in polygynous societies, it is virtually always the wealthier, higher-status, often older, men who have multiple wives. Given the poverty and chaos of Afghanistan, we might expect its women to be especially security-conscious, and in fact it's been reported that most Afghan women would rather be a man's third or fourth wife than remain single, even if they are abused or treated unfairly by the husband.

Since the wealthier, older men get multiple wives, many of the younger, poorer men have no opportunities for marriage. But it gets worse…

Strike two: lopsided sex ratio. India and China have been in the news for their preference for sons over daughters. Whether through infanticide or selective abortion, both countries have about 107 males for every 100 females (2001 data). What's not generally known is that Afghanistan is a close third place, with over 106 males per 100 females. So not only are fewer women available (due to polygyny), there are more men seeking them. (Perhaps this chronic shortage of in-the-flesh women lends extra appeal to the promise of bevies of nubile virgins in the afterlife.)

Possible strike three: the Afghan economy. I'm certainly no expert, but it seems likely that the economic opportunities for young Afghan men coming of age are limited at best.

So what we end up with is an outsize cohort of poor young men with very little opportunity to find stable employment, get married, and settle down. And in those circumstances, it shouldn't surprise us that the Taliban finds a fertile breeding ground. This is from the Wikipedia page on Polygamy in Afghanistan:

Large numbers of Afghan men cannot afford to buy a wife (through providing money for dowries and weddings). When the nonprofit International Council on Security and Development interviewed more than 420 Afghan men in 2010, 82 percent suggested that the best way to discourage young men from joining the Talaban [sic] would be to provide them with money for dowries and weddings.
The upshot of it all is that the Taliban has its best luck recruiting Afghan's losers: rootless, impoverished young men with literally nothing to lose. And as James Baldwin famously said, "The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose."
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    What is valued is practiced. What is not valued is not practiced. -- Plato

    by RobLewis on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:18:05 AM PST

  •  Okay, volunteers line up to the left. (5+ / 0-)

    No pushing, now.




    Hmm. I think your plan has a flaw ;)

    Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

    by eataTREE on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:26:34 AM PST

    •  I know it's snark (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, cynndara

      but I suspect any woman with internet access would not be in the target demographic for moving to Afghanistan and marrying an Afghani 'loser'. I suspect if you recruited in, say, refugee camps, you might find more takers.

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:07:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  however, our current solution seems to be (6+ / 0-)

    to shoot them.  While the situation in Afghanistan is too complex to be solved in a single diary or in a number of diaries, the bottom line remains that the best COIN is prosperity.

    Despite winger myths to the contrary, after WWII, there were not large bands of desperate German and Japanese roaming the country, attacking civilians and Allied servicemen.  While the argument may be made that the Axis was so completely defeated that there was no opportunity for such activity but the Marshall Plan, for friends and foes alike, stabilized those countries and offered hope for a future to the citizens.

    What Afghanistan needs, is not more troops or drones, but an international Marshall Plan.  There should be incentive there as Afghanistan is supposedly sitting on a mountain of minerals but it seems the incentives encourage old school colonialism, complete with a corrupt puppet government and proxy military.

    In short, any COIN has to offer hope and not bullets

    •  I think all those Republicans who crowed (4+ / 0-)

      "I built that" should go to Afghanistan and actually build up new jobs and help their economy (not by outsourcing from the US, but actually creating new companies). Employ all those unemployed losers and help them earn the money to buy their own wife.

      If "I built that" types are correct, they won't need the infrastructure in the US, or the encouragement from the government to create a lively, thriving economy in Afghanistan. Since, of course, "I built that!"

      I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage

      by woolibaar on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:39:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Too dangerous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But this might be just as effective, maybe more.
    Just send binders full of women.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam, help the hungry.

    by randallt on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:03:34 AM PST

  •  The shortage is not just from multiple wives... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alice kleeman, JDsg

    In Pakistan for example I remember in the 80s that they killed so many young women for not being correct in thier behavior that there actually was 6 men to each child bearing woman. Now many countries that practiced winnowing the not perfectly subservient females buy wives form countries with excess population and a deep depreciative attitude towards women.  I am sure that Aftghanistan is similar. Woman gets raped then execute or jail her. Woman wears garments that entice males then she gets raped to death (even if the garb is clergy approved it is her fault). Woman looks at a man in the eye ...bam, she won't ever do that again.

    We have something similar occuring amongst the black population in America. We jail young black males at a tremendous clip for committing crimes based on unemployment rates  that are far higher then amongst white males of similar economic & education backgrounds (where we don't ensure they can't get an education)...We are in effect damaging black families and now, with a drive to populate for profit prisons, the right will try to pass more draconian laws targeting black males.

    Actions, behaviors and social rules have unforeseen (maybe actually manipulations?) consequences. As far back as the late 70s I read articles about the stans and India ... attitudes towards women were a real drag on thier economic development and lead to even more serious economic rebound when an individuals value is so tightly tied to producing children.

    Fear is the Mind Killer...

    by boophus on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:16:32 PM PST

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