Abandoning women in Afghanistan

Want to see a real «war on women?» Wait until 2014 when U.S and NATO forces effectively leave Afghanistan to the whims of the bloodthirsty Taliban.

The savagery will make the alleged Republican sins against women — as politically motivated Democrats have charged — pale in comparison. The Taliban’s strict enforcement of Sharia law, or Islamic law, has resulted in what can be described without exaggeration as a scourge against women.

The atrocities run from everyday humiliations such as the required wearing of turtle-shell burqas, to the denial of education and other rights, «honor» killings, public stonings, and rape.

In 1999, the United Nations detailed how the government enforced «official, widespread and systematic violations of the human rights of women.» That was before the United States drove the Taliban from power, at last giving women a taste of liberty.

But as Amnesty International pointed out in its «shadow summit» conference during the NATO meetings in Chicago, such degradations haven’t ended, and with the re-emergence of the Taliban as a threat to the U.S.-backed government the worries of backsliding into a Dark Age of oppression are real and imminent.

An Elimination of Violence Against Woman law enacted in 2009 criminalized «child marriage, selling and buying women for the purpose or under the pretext of marriage, baad (giving away a woman or girl to settle a dispute), forced self-immolation and 27 other acts of violence against women, including rape and beating.» But a U.N. report last year concluded that while the law has improved matters, it has «not yet succeeded in applying … the law to the vast majority of cases of violence against women.»

The shadow summit has called for eight «critical steps» to protect women, generally directed at increasing the role of women in any peace and reconciliation negotiations and the insistence that any agreement ensures protections of women’s constitutional and human rights. As Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., a summit participant noted, «If you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.»

And yet, as laudatory as such demands are, calls for reason and diplomacy won’t budge the Taliban from its long-entrenched manual of horrors. It will take force to protect women and their rights. Which runs headlong into the purpose of the Chicago NATO summit: the «orderly» withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Bluntly stated: What President Barack Obama is engineering by his abandonment of what he once called the real war in the Middle East is a betrayal of women. And that also goes for the peace activists, anarchists, ancients from ’60s protests, feminists, isolationists and well-intentioned protesters who were on the streets of Chicago outside of the summit.

Do they really believe that they can «talk» the Taliban out of floggings and public executions in soccer stadiums, the brutal repression of free speech and the total elimination of «non-Islamic» influences like music? The murderous Taliban are so nutsy they even banned kite flying, something of a national sport.

The Chicago media obsessed with the coverage of the protesters while pretty much ignoring the essence of what was happening inside McCormick Place — the selling out of women for the fictitious appearance of peace and stability in Afghanistan. If the protesters really cared about ending the jihad against women threatened by the pullout of forces in Afghanistan, they would have railed against Obama’s politically motived double-cross.

The anti-war protesters are up against it. Can they acknowledge that sometimes the only way to deal with the insane is the threat or use of force? Did we learn nothing from the appeasement that led up World War II?

Sure, there are serious questions to be raised about the future and purpose of NATO, the most powerful military alliance ever assembled. Do we want it acting as the world’s police force, imposing its will on sovereign nations? Even American conservatives should be troubled by a world police force that can intervene whenever and wherever the U.N. approves or directs.

But the more pressing and practical issue is whether the White House and the self-appointed advocates for right, justice and peace can recognize that sitting down at the table with the Taliban is like an invited pig seeing bacon on the menu.

Dennis Byrne, a Chicago writer.

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