Can we stay in Afghanistan for the women?
This article, by Samira Ahmed, is about how the war in Afghanistan has been framed as a “feminist experiment” and the plight of Afghan women has been referred to by various female politicians (and politicians’ wives) so as to justify the invasion and continuing occupation of Afghanistan. I recall the real reason troops were sent in being to do with the terrorists the Taliban had been foolishly harbouring, who had organised a major terrorist attack on New York and Washington. The situation for women in Afghanistan had been the case since 1996, when the Taliban took power, and had not been the reason for an invasion until then.
Western troops, principally American and British it seems, have been in Afghanistan for ten years. In that time, we have been propping up a corrupt and weak government in Kabul, while the Taliban seem to have a huge influence almost everywhere else. We know that much of rural Afghan society is sympathetic to the Taliban, whose version of Islamic rule is based on the custom of those regions (although Kabul and parts of the north are more liberal, or may seem so to western eyes, anyway). The west has not provided any significant reasons for people (and particularly the men who hold the power) in those areas to transfer their allegiance away from the Taliban, and have caused civilian deaths of its own, there and in Pakistan by using drones to bomb what turn out to be wedding parties and other non-military targets.
The central goal, of eliminating a threat to western security, was achieved years ago. It seems that nothing else can be achieved as there is no sign of a strong and stable government despite ten years of western support for Karzai. This demonstrates that either Afghanistan is ungovernable, or that western leaders lack the will or the skill to do it properly. At a time when budgets are having to be cut, and essential services at home with them (along with enormous cuts in military spending, something nobody would expected from a Tory-led government), we cannot justify sending troops to a far-off country other than in response to a dire threat to our own security, or something like an ongoing genocide or other humanitarian emergency. Neither of these situations exist any longer in Afghanistan; the troops should be withdrawn.
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