Below is the text of my posted comment at ForeignPolicy.com responding to Bernard I. Finel’s Ten Questions about Afghanistan.
America’s Moral Responsibility in Afghanistan
Thank you for posing some tough questions that deserve deeper discussion. To complicate matters, I would like focus a bit more on your question six — the nature of America’s “moral obligation” to protect, among others, Afghan women from Taliban oppression.
The fear of a return to Taliban misogyny should be weighed against the reality of significant misogyny in the policies being put forward by the Karzai government. After all, it was the Western-backed Afghanistan regime that recently produced legislation allowing husbands to starve sexually unwilling wives.
Over at ForeignPolicy.com, Bernard I. Finel at the American Security Project asks Ten Questions about Afghanistan that deserve discussion. Here’s one:
Many proponents of escalation in Afghanistan highlight the American moral obligation to the Afghan people, in particular to Afghan women certain to be oppressed by a Taliban resurgence and the large number of men and women who have worked with American forces who would likely be targeted for retribution. What is the nature of this moral obligation? Is it absolute? Are there steps we could take to mitigate the consequences short of providing a permanent guarantee of human rights in the country?
It isn’t a pleasant question. In asking it, we must also keep in mind that it was the Western-backed Karzai government that produced legislation allowing husbands to starve sexually unwilling wives. So in considering our moral obligation, we should also remember that U.S.-backed Afghan elites are making their own deals within the same misogynist political culture. In effect, the U.S. goal of building a stable, non-Taliban Afghan regime may itself result in a perpetuation of misogynist governance and human rights violations.