The New York Times front page yesterday featured an appalling story whose title is self-explanatory: “U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies.“
The story notes that “The American policy of nonintervention is intended to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militia units the United States has trained to fight the Taliban.” An Army special forces officer who’d had enough “beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave” and was relieved of his command. The Army is trying to forcibly retire a decorated non-com who also took part in the beating.
While punishing our soldiers for roughing up pedophile rapists is outrageous, the general policy that “allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law” (in the words of an Army spokesman) is unavoidable given our policy of semi-colonization.
If it were up to me, we’d wash our hands of Afghanistan, making clear that if the Taliban (or whichever armed gang manages to take power) makes the mistake of again serving as a safe haven and training ground for people planning to attack the United States, we’ll come back and kill a bunch of them again. But that until that day, and that day may never come, they’re on their own and are free to go on raping their children, if that’s what their primitive and barbarous culture calls for.
On the other hand, if we’re really intent on stopping the Afghans from buggering little boys, we need to end the façade of indirect rule and simply colonize the place. That’s never worked out well in Afghanistan, and we’re obviously not going to do it. But it would have the advantage of allowing us to impose our (objectively superior) standards on them. The classic articulation of this comes from James Napier, a British functionary in India in the mid-nineteenth century. Hindu priests complained to Napier about the British ban on the suttee, the custom from time immemorial which required widows to be burned alive on their husband’s funeral pyre. Napier replied:
Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.
Instead, we have semi-colonization, forcing us to tolerate the depraved norms of this savage culture without any authority to change them. This line from the Times story would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic: “After each case, Captain Quinn would gather the Afghan commanders and lecture them on human rights.”
Yeah, that’s sure to earn their respect.