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