As the Obama administration makes a strategic determination about whether to cut its losses in Afghanistan or stay put and boost efforts to stabilize the country, a growing chorus is making the moral case for remaining. A U.S. pullout would mean abandoning Afghanistan's women:
- 'Betrayal' At The Daily Beast, Tina Brown says Afghan women are terrified the United States will abandon them. Brown says comparisons of Afghanistan and Vietnam are flawed because the Taliban does not have the widespread support of the people. Afghanistan, she writes, is no Vietnam:
Today the grounds for betraying Afghan women again are being fertilized by the received wisdom of the "quagmire" lobby, which keeps summoning up the analogy of Vietnam. But Afghanistan is not Vietnam, and the Taliban is not the Vietcong. The Vietcong had the sympathies, if not the active allegiance, of 80 percent of the people. The Taliban approval rating is no more than 8 percent, even in the grassroots Pashtun southeast region. The Taliban may want to separate their image from al Qaeda's after we bombed the hell out of them, but they still share al Qaeda's radical Islamic ideology, expressed in beatings, suicide bombings, and hostility to female education.
- Without Empowered Women, Afghanistan Will Fail, Melanie Reid writes at the Times of London. She says Afghanistan will never be a successful democracy if women remain second-class citizens. "Women's wellbeing is the bellwether of society: how women fare correlates directly with how society fares overall. The only way a new Afghanistan is ever going to emerge is if their place in society undergoes a revolution." She says life for Afghan women has improved. "Despite the increase in rape, and the violence, and the daily dismay of being second-class citizens, the vast majority of Afghan women believe that there has been an improvement in general life. In the face of their optimism, we have to stick with them."
- 'We Will Not Abandon You,' Terry Glavin writes at Canada's National Post.
We have no cause to doubt the resolve of the Afghan people. It's our own resolve that's the problem, and while peace in Afghanistan may require more soldiers and firepower, not less, all the troops in the world will do no greater service to the Afghan people and their cause than plain words, spoken in plain language: We will not betray you. We will not abandon you. We will not surrender. We will not retreat.
- Negotiate With the Taliban and Women Will Lose Everything, Rachel Reid warns at The Washington Post. Reid says Afghan President Hamid Karzai appears ready to negotiate with the Taliban, which will prove disastrous for women. Western governments, she argues, cannot allow that to happen.
Perhaps of more concern for women and girls is that Karzai is positioning himself as someone who can bring the Taliban and other fundamentalist factions back into the fold. Scant regard is being paid to what this would mean for Afghan women, who have worked courageously for the precious few freedoms they have won in recent years.