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We’re Still In Afghanistan To Save The Ladies?

Posted by DownWithTyranny on May 11th, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

And what happens if we stay?

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the same week the CIA reassured Hamid Karzai that nothing– including the Sequester here– would slow down the cascade of bribes for him and his circle, he assured the Pentagon they could keep 9 bases in Afghanistan after the occupation officially “ends.”

The C.I.A.’s station chief here met with President Hamid Karzai on Saturday, and the Afghan leader said he had been assured that the agency would continue dropping off stacks of cash at his office despite a storm of criticism that has erupted since the payments were disclosed.

The C.I.A. money, Mr. Karzai told reporters, was “an easy source of petty cash,” and some of it was used to pay off members of the political elite, a group dominated by warlords.

The use of the C.I.A. cash for payoffs has prompted criticism from many Afghans and some American and European officials, who complain that the agency, in its quest to maintain access and influence at the presidential palace, financed what is essentially a presidential slush fund. The practice, the officials say, effectively undercut a pillar of the American war strategy: the building of a clean and credible Afghan government to wean popular support from the Taliban.

Instead, corruption at the highest levels seems to have only worsened. The International Monetary Fund recently warned diplomats in Kabul that the Afghan government faced a potentially severe budget shortfall partly because of the increasing theft of customs duties and officially abetted tax evasion.

Fancy that! Well, “we” get the 9 bases (if Karzai isn’t hung by his heels the day the U.S. flies out of Kabul– if he isn’t on that last helicopter or already living comfortably in Dubai or New York).

The U.S. wants to keep nine bases in Afghanistan after American combat troops withdraw in 2014 and the Afghan government will let them as long as it gets “security and economic guarantees,” President Hamid Karzai said Thursday in his first public offer in talks about the future relationship between the two uneasy allies.

Not long ago, I got into a friendly argument with a couple of progressive congresswomen who are unambiguously antiwar. And they both vote that way. But they had mixed feelings about withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan “yet.” Their concern, an understandable– if wrongheaded– one, was that “we” needed to help liberate Afghan women. Don’t get me started. I lived in Afghanistan twice– in 1969 and, for a briefer time in 1972– and not just in Kabul, but in smaller towns and in the countryside in a settlement with two family compounds. Afghan women need help, all right– but it’s not coming at the end of a bayonet… or a drone strike.

I arrived in Delhi last year on the day of the horrific gang rape that shut the city down for a week. On local TV I noticed that everyone was angry about the rape– very angry. But eventually I figured out that there were two distinct camps with anger pointed in very different directions. At first all the man-in-the-street interviews were with folks in Delhi, men and women, and they were outraged that their society was still so primitive and backward and conservative that gang rapes like this happen frequently. Eventually the man-in-the-street interviews started including unpaved streets. In the villages the anger was directed towards the victims of these sexual assaults. “How dare these women dress like that or go out without a brother or father accompanying them?” These women were ruining India. 

India is at least a century ahead of Afghanistan by any measure. So are longtime American allies Morocco and Jordan. Right now I’m in the middle of Rana Husseini’s heartbreaking book, about “honor” killings in Jordan, Murder in the Name of Honor. I’ll be talking at greater length about Husseini’s book in the future but I was started today when I read the reaction to her activism on behalf of women by a Member of Parliament who is the former Justice Minister, Abdul Karim Dughmi: “All women killed in cases of honor are prostitutes. I believe prostitutes deserve to die.” Believe me, if relatively modern, westernized countries like India, Morocco and Jordan have this kind of mindset– watch the video below– the U.S. doesn’t have the attention span or the will to help the women in far more backward, xenophobic and conservative Afghanistan.

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