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What are we fighting for?

March 12, 2012

US troops have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for a decade. Getting rid of Osama bin Laden and punishing the Taliban for sheltering him were worthwhile goals, and I supported that action at the time. But now that we’ve caught bin Laden, why are we still there?

We’ve all heard the empty rhetoric about ensuring democracy, and we know that the Taliban was brutally oppressive towards women. We removed the Taliban. We set up a government that was supposed to protect the rights of women. We put a puppet in the presidency who was supposed to honor the new government. All of our efforts will fail – not because of our troops, and not because of the policies of our government (neither of the two administrations that oversaw the Afghanistan project). It will be for naught thanks to the backwardness of Afghan society and the dishonesty of its leader. Hamid Karzai has shown his true colors by endorsing an edict that codifies women as second class citizens.

It doesn’t matter how much effort we put into Afghanistan. We can’t force them to embrace an open and modern society, and we can’t force them not to engage in brutal oppression of half their population based on nothing more than their sex. Afghanistan should be an object lesson for all of us as to the importance of maintaining a strict separation of between church and state. Theocracy has always been a bad idea.

I’m not going to imply that the words and deeds of certain conservative blowhards and their GOP mouthpieces is the same thing as what’s happening in Afghanistan. To quote one of my favorite characters in Pulp Fiction, “Ain’t no effing ball park either.” That would be the worst sort of false equivalency imaginable. However, the words of Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santorum and many others in the GOP are the kind of language that undermines the status of women. Depicting women as nothing more than their reproductive system, or as nothing more than the sum of their sexual activity, is not only idiotic, demeaning and cruel, it’s also dangerous. It’s the type of rthetoric that devalues women. And devaluing women is the first step on the road to oppression.

Yes. Hamid Karzai and his ilk are worse than the GOP. But I expect more from any American than I do from third world reprobates. We’re supposed to more enlightened than they are.

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