Bernard Finel shows how to end the Af-Pak in days. Now. Guaranteed.

IMHO, This is the Strongest Case for the Afghan War“, by Bernard Finel, 2 November 2009 — which refers to — “A Feminist Case for War?“, Michelle Goldberg, 27 October 2009 — “Women’s rights activists are conflicted over a continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan.”  Excerpt:

But there are also many seconding the message of Women for Afghan Women. “As an Afghan woman who for many years lived a life deprived of the most basic human rights, I find unbearable the thought of what will happen to the women of my country if it once again falls under the control of the insurgents and militants who now threaten it,” the Afghan human-rights activist Wazhma Frogh wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed.

Earlier this month, The Christian Science Monitor ran a story about a visit that the radical anti-war group Code Pink made to Afghanistan, where they met with local women’s rights activists adamantly against a pullout. “Code Pink … is one of the more high-profile women’s anti-war groups being forced to rethink its position as Afghan women explain theirs: Without international troops, they say, armed groups could return with a vengeance — and that would leave women most vulnerable,” the Monitor reported.

Hyneman doesn’t dispute that the last 8 years have been largely disastrous for Afghanistan. “There’s no question, we, meaning the United States, have done a terrible job there,” Hyneman says. “We’ve promoted the warlords, financed the warlords. We should have demanded that the warlords be bought before a court, a trial, a reconciliation process. The Afghan people want that. America under the previous administration made a chaos, a mess of Afghanistan. We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

But unlike Joya, Hyneman believes that the United States can be part of the solution to the problems it has helped create. “Because we have botched up things there, that doesn’t mean we should leave; it means we should stay and try to fix it,” she says. “It seems rather obvious. We’ve made a mess, we’ve got the warlords in power, we’ve done everything wrong, killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. So we just abandon them?”

To a large degree, the answer depends on whether one believes that the American military can be a force for humanitarianism. After the last eight years, that’s a hard faith to sustain. Staying in Afghanistan seems indefensible. The trouble is, so does leaving.

Picture President Obama and the Joint Chiefs explaining to the American people that the strongest reason for the Af-Pak war is to protect the women of Afghanistan.  Whom by the way we’ve never asked if they want our protection (the number of western-type feminists is an infinitesimal fraction of the population).

It would be a Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot moment.  The war would be over in weeks.  Thank you Prof Finel, for this vivid demonstration of the irrationality of the war, all the conventional reasons have been exploded as lies  (e.g., prevent another 9-11) — just like the reasons for the Iraq Expedition.

Response from Prof Finel (posted with permission)

FM:  “you are in effect calling for Crusades to conquer and remake a large fraction of the 3rd world.”

I am not calling for anything in particular. I am noting that the nations of the world have asserted that there are some principles of universal human rights that trump sovereignty. And I am noting that I believe that people with power have a responsibility to use it in order to prevent suffering. Neither is a hugely controversial argument. In practice, the cases where this justifies military intervention are few and far between. But Rwanda was one, and Afghanistan might be another. We should at least discuss the issue, not simply dismiss it.

FM:  “Whom by the way we’ve never asked if they want our protection (the number of western-type feminists is an infinitesimal fraction of the population).”

This is a strawman. No one is saying there is a duty to make it possible for all Afghan women to wear miniskirts in public. We’re talking about a much narrower set of concerns — preventing child rape, access to basic education.

FM reply: It is not a strawman. I doubt either Prof Finel or I has any idea what the majority of Afghanistan’s women want. Using military force to change their society without making some effort to ask is IMO arrogant.

For more information from the FM site

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.  To see all posts about our new wars:

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

Some posts about the war in Afghanistan:

  1. Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
  2. Stratfor: “The Strategic Debate Over Afghanistan”, 13 May 2009
  3. Real experts review a presentation about the War (look here, if you’re looking for well-written analysis!), 21 June 2009
  4. The Big Lie at work in Afghanistan – an open discussion, 23 June 2009
  5. “War without end”, a great article by George Wilson, 27 June 2009
  6. “Strategic Calculus and the Afghan War” by George Friedman of Stratfor, 17 July 2009
  7. Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 1, 18 July 2009
  8. We are warned about Afghanistan, but choose not to listen (part 2), 19 July 2009
  9. Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 3, 20 July 2009

Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

10 thoughts on “Bernard Finel shows how to end the Af-Pak in days. Now. Guaranteed.

  1. Oblat

    The idea of running a civil war to protect women is just disgusting. The effects of war on women is very well documented in the feminist literature, anyone claiming such nonsense doesn’t know the first thing about feminism.

    There is a constituency in Afghanistan for the occupation, the tiny elite living in Kabul. That’s who wants the occupation not the 98% of women living in the countryside. What they can’t come out and say is that they want to occupation because it cements their place as the elite and is good for business, so they peddle out such things as women’s rights and schooling.

    The fact is that the elite will willingly trade off such “universal rights” in the afghan countryside to pay off the warlords – as they have done consistently over the last 8 years. Which is why human rights abuses of ordinary afghans in the villages is returning to the atrocious pre-Taliban levels.

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  2. ser

    For the longest time in history, men have been citizens while women and children have the legal status of being property. The change in status of women, let alone children, from property to citizen, has varied by country as well as in the details.

    Has anyone studied the conditions that made the change possible? Are these conditions present in Afghanistan? I am certain the presence of a foreign army is not a sufficient condition.

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  3. Pode

    If anything I would speculate that the presence of an external army is close to a sufficeint condition in and of itself to PREVENT such change. It provides an external “them” for an “us” to unify around, minimizing the internal conflicts that trigger changes in the “us”

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  4. anna nicholas

    I just dont think most of us have a clue about what it is to be a Muslim woman . I found myself in the company of a large number of Muslims in a London Free Gaza march . There was the huge, scary Arab man , face swathed in the chequered headscarf , who ran up and grabbed a harmless little bloke by the throat . For a moment we thought murder would be done ; turned out the little man’s baby girl had dropped her tiny pink glove half a mile back and he hadnt noticed . Her hand will be cold ! snarled the hawk nosed bandit .Then there was the shop full of risque high fashion .. the women , even those in burkas , went into raptures . Their favourite shop ! They spent the next mile discussing their own wardrobes . Which did not just contain a spare burka and some flannel knickers , contrary to Western opinion .

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  5. atheist

    Thanks for posting this Fabius. It dives right into a very fraught, deep, and dangerous junction of at least three separate American worldviews. It looks at a horribly perverse, deadly sucking chest wound within American imperialism, where morality feasts on itself like a cannibal corpse.
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    FM reply: That was really well said. I wish I could write like that.

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  6. cynicalatheist

    From #6: “I just dont think most of us have a clue about what it is to be a Muslim woman.”

    Anna, I was recently listening to an activist named “David Wildman” who had travelled to Afghanistan and talked with the Afghans. One thing he noted was that, even in remote villages in conservative regions of the supposedly misogynistic Afghanistan, he repeatedly spoke with fathers who wanted their daughters to go to school and get educated.

    I don’t know but suspect that, in occupying the nation, we somehow bring its worst instincts to the fore, slowly but surely. We actually degrade them. I don’t know if that has to happen but it seems like it is happening, and this is not the first time colonialism has turned out like this.

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  7. Fabius Maximus Post author

    A response from Prof Finel has been add to this post

    Worth reading, as always with his writings.

    FM: “you are in effect calling for Crusades to conquer and remake a large fraction of the 3rd world.

    I am not calling for anything in particular. I am noting that the nations of the world have asserted that there are some principles of universal human rights that trump sovereignty. And I am noting that I believe that people with power have a responsibility to use it in order to prevent suffering. Neither is a hugely controversial argument. In practice, the cases where this justifies military intervention are few and far between. But Rwanda was one, and Afghanistan might be another. We should at least discuss the issue, not simply dismiss it.

    FM: “Whom by the way we’ve never asked if they want our protection (the number of western-type feminists is an infinitesimal fraction of the population).

    This is a strawman. No one is saying there is a duty to make it possible for all Afghan women to wear miniskirts in public. We’re talking about a much narrower set of concerns — preventing child rape, access to basic education.

    FM reply to Prof Finel’s response: It is not a strawman. I doubt either Prof Finel or I has any idea what the majority of Afghanistan’s women want. Using military force to change their society without making some effort to ask is IMO arrogant.

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