About our sudden concern for Afghanistan’s women (& the desperate search for a reason to fight)

Summary:    Part two of a series women in the Af-Pak War.  The other chapters are listed at the end.

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David Rothkopf (Wikipedia bio) writes a column at the Foreign Policy magazine’s website with the tagline “How the world is really run.”  Based on these two columns about the war in Afghanistan, it appears he is unqualified to write this column, displaying little knowledge of how the world works — or should work..  It’s worth examining, as his mistakes illustrate the confusion at the foundation of current American geopolitical thinking.

Excerpt from “Women and Islam: The real test of our values“, David Rothkopf, Foreign Policy, 3 August 2010:

For policymakers and for people who care about the moral and ethical underpinnings of policy, there is a dark and difficult conundrum presented here. If we embrace tolerance, celebrate diversity and promote religious freedom, what do we do when a religion or a subset of its practitioners or a culture promotes a view that is fundamentally inconsistent with the most basic, most universally acknowledged principles of human rights?

To answer this question honestly requires considerable courage. To live by the implications of that answer requires even more.

The fundamental human rights of women trump the teachings of any religion. To denigrate, abuse, or devalue in any way the majority population of the earth — mothers, daughters and sisters — is either an affront to God or alternatively, if it is argued that it is the will of God, it is an affront to decency.

Note that Rothkopf cannot state any basis for his belief.  He’s rejected religion as a source of truth.  He resorts to “decency”, a sign that his mind has left its rails.  Decency means conforming to standards of propriety and morality.  It cannot be cited as a standard by itself.  What principles, what authority supports his view that these fundamentalist Moslems are wrong?

Rothkopf’s inarticulate cry that his values are the highest values, which we should strive to impose on others, has deep roots in today’s USA.  Allan Bloom explains in his magnum opus The Closing of the American Mind.   Part II, chapter 5 — Culture:

Here we live with 2 contradictory understandings of what counts for man. One tells us that what is important is what all men have in common; the other that what men have in common is low, while what they have from separate cultures gives them their depth and their interest. … {T}he Ayatollah was initially supported by some here because he represented true Iranian culture. Now he is attacked for violating human rights. What he does is in the name of Islam. His critics insist that there are universal principles that limit the rights of Islam.

… Why can’t there be a respect for both human rights and culture? Simply because a culture itself generates its own way of life and principles, particularly its highest ones, with no authority above it. If there were such an authority, the unique way of life born of its principle would be undermined.

To live by Rothkoph’s values requires, as he says, “considerable courage.”  A big heart.  But that’s not enough to survive and prosper in this world.  Striving without wisdom or self-awareness puts us on the fast track to disaster.  Following our geopolitical experts, like Rothkoph, has taken us a long way along that road.

Don’t forget the abused boys in Afghanistan (although everybody else has).  See “Afghanistan’s dirty little secret“, Joel Brinkley (Prof Journalism at Stanford), San Francisco Chronicle, 29 August 2010

Other posts in this series about the proposed crusade to help women

The next chapter in this series examines Rothkopf’s next article:  Women, Islam, Afghanistan, President Obama, and Andrew Sullivan, Foreign Policy, 5 August 2010.

  1. Bernard Finel shows how to end the Af-Pak in days. Now. Guaranteed., 6 November 2009
  2. We destroy a secular regime in Afghanistan (& its women’s rights), then we wage war on the new regime to restore women’s rights. Welcome to the American Empire., 20 November 2009
  3. Today’s propaganda: we must fight in Afghanistan to help its women, 10 August 2010
  4. A non-violent crusade giving rights to the world’s women!, 14 August 2010
  5. Subjugation of women anywhere threatens US national security!, 16 August 2010

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