For the record, I’ve not only opposed our Mideast military adventures but also, in 2007, wrote an article warning about the folly of “nation-building.” Yet I also know that if you are going to overthrow a tyrannical regime and remake the government, a prerequisite is winning the hearts and minds of the people. You must also note that you “never change things by fighting the existing reality,” as famed architect Buckminster Fuller observed. “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Now, when the Nazis invaded the USSR during WWII, they initially encountered some people who hoped they’d free them from Stalin’s brutal rule. Adolf Hitler was very blunt about his disinterest in winning hearts and minds, however, reportedly saying that he came not as a liberator, but a conqueror.
What of America in Afghanistan, however? Were we replacing the dreaded Taliban government (which the Biden administration now thinks it can work with) with a better model? And from the Afghans’ perspective, did we come as liberators or cultural conquerors?
Consider: “Over the past 20 years…Congress has allocated close to a billion dollars to export academic feminism to Afghanistan,” reported commentator Tucker Carlson last month. That money was spent on “programs like a two years Master’s Degree in Gender and Women’s Studies offered at Kabul University, something Afghans apparently never knew they needed,” he continued.
“Another U.S. government effort meanwhile funded, quote, ‘activities that educate and engage Afghan men and boys to challenge gender stereotypes,’” Carlson also informed. Uh-huh, I bet that went over like a lead balloon.
We also demanded affirmative action, that women constitute “at least 10 percent of the Afghan National Army and a still larger proportion of that country’s political leadership,” the commentator further related. Owing to our “gender” (“sex” is the proper word, actually) quotas, dozens of women entered Afghanistan’s parliament even though many of them hadn’t even been to the areas they supposedly represented.
Oh, we made Afghan women police officers, too.
Question: Did we also remember to institute mandatory weekly pig roasts?
How about yearly “Draw Mohammed” contests?
All the while American troops were instructed to ignore the sexual abuse of boys. This was “to maintain good standing with the U.S.-trained Afghan police and militia in a country where the practice of bacha bazi (boy play) is widespread,” Time told us in 2015. “In some cases, the U.S. ended up arming suspected pedophiles” (as opposed to just giving them the US presidency).
So the molestation of boys is a cultural norm you must respect, even though the Taliban might punish this behavior with death. But not having women enter roles (i.e., soldier, cop) unknown to them for 99.999 percent of history? Perish the thought!
Ah, the perversion of sex roles along with the perversion of sex…. Did anything ever better epitomize our pseudo-elite, über-effete Left?
Now, I don’t deny that the Taliban mistreat women (along with many other groups, to varying degrees). But even if you were sold on the steroid-level feminism, wouldn’t a wise person realize that baby steps were prudent, that as with straightening a crooked arrow, bending it too fast could mean breakage? (The answer, of course, is that a wise person wouldn’t embrace feminism to begin with, period, let alone the steroid-level variety.)
In other words, the Western sexual devolutionaries could have tried eliminating objective wrongs such as, oh, let’s say, selling daughters to settle debts and killing girls for having committed minor infractions against the tribe — and the rampant pederasty. Even these changes would have been difficult to effect, but would have constituted a noble endeavor, comparable to the British Raj ending the practice of suttee (widow-burning) in India. But, no, this wasn’t good enough for the Afghanistan nation-fiddler social engineers, who seemed to be right out of Berkeley’s or Brown’s “gender” studies department.
Of course, leftists viscerally feel (and everything is about feelings with them) that American conservatives are more alien than any alien culture. But do consider that even Western rightists tend to be upset when so-called “gender” programs are foisted on them. How do you think the tribal Muslim Afghans reacted?
We don’t have to wonder. As Carlson also reported last month, one “USAID official conceded in a classified report, quote, ‘Focusing on gender made things more unstable because it caused revolts.’” Gee, you don’t say.
So how was our intervention viewed by the average Afghan? Did we seem like liberators or bizarre, sex-switching alien cultural imperialists?
In truth, our sexual devolutionaries are just as radical as the Taliban, only at the other extreme. Though the Afghans’ conception of sex roles is quite askew, there’s nothing odd about traditional ones; they are history’s norm. Western feminism is the anomaly.
I wholly reject the Taliban, of course (and they’d liberate my head from my body). Nonetheless, I respect them more than I do our leftists, who are extremists without guts and the willingness to die for their cause (though they are good at killing civilizations). I suspect the average Afghan feels the same.
There some are lessons we can take away from the Afghan experience, ones that many learned long ago. First, don’t tolerate any leftist blather about “ethnocentrism,” multiculturalism or cultural relativism. While liberals are fuzzy-headed relativists, they only preach the above when it serves to destroy Western norms they dislike. But they end up acting as dogmatic as any Allah-worshiping jihadist because, ultimately, relativists make everything relative to themselves and their agenda.
Second, because they’re detached from reality, leftists tend to destroy everything they touch. Empower them at your own peril.
If — and I say if — I’d been inclined to invade Afghanistan, had intended to uproot its culture and didn’t care how many heads (not to mention bombs) I made explode in the process, I wouldn’t have put the cart before the horse. As I explained in 2014, I’d have done what Charlemagne essentially did: Go Roman, forcibly convert the population to Christianity and then garrison troops in the country until the change took. Then the culture might have been suited for a Western-style republic. For “nation-building” was never sufficient in Afghanistan without its prerequisite: civilization-building.
Instead, we took a tribal Islamic people, of which 99 percent believe Sharia should be the law of the land, 73 percent fancy it God’s will and 61 percent say it should be applied to non-Muslims as well, and tried giving them San Francisco “values.” The Capons and Clucking Hens of Incongruence, we attempted to computerize a camel — with corrupted software.
So, no, we weren’t offering “a new model” that made the Afghans’ “existing model obsolete.” We just tried trading the Taliban for the Femiban, a folly that would have made any wise wise-guy say, “Yeah, this should end well.”
And it did.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.