Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The culture of afterthoughts

"Certainly the views of the administration have been and will be communicated to the Karzai government. And we think that it is very important for us to be sensitive to local culture but we also think there are certain basic principles that all nations should uphold." - President Obama, on the impending passage of an Afghan law abolishing the rights of Shia women.

Yes, let’s be certain to remain sensitive to local culture. It’s very important.

The next time some redneck tells me that Obama is “uppity,” I’m going to remember to be sensitive to his culture and the long tradition white people have of putting colored people in their place.

Also, when I see pictures of those Minutemen guarding our border, talking about shooting any Mexicans they see trying to cross, I’m going to remember it then, too.

I’m especially going to remember it the next time a Muslim member of my community talks about their business being targeted by anti-Muslim vandals. “Hey,” I’m going to say, “Christians have a rich and storied history filled with the harassment and killing of Muslims. We have to be sensitive to their culture.”

Hm. So, I have been waiting, ever since the news about Afghanistan’s new law came out, to hear how we will respond. And I gave Obama more than a few days, knowing that he does prefer to know what he’s talking about before he speaks.

The response pretty much sucks. Because not only does Obama temper his criticism of the law he calls “abhorrent” by reminding everyone that beating, raping, and generally oppressing women is part of Afghanistan’s “culture,” but he also stressed, multiple times, that our mission there is to wipe out Al-Qaeda, period.

How does this jive with Hillary Clinton’s statement, made at The Hague just days before the details of the Afghan law were revealed, that "women's rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama administration; they are not marginal; they are not an add-on or an afterthought"?

I don’t know about you, readers, but it’s looking pretty afterthought-y to me. Kinda like a photo op of a president who’s a big basketball fan, and who fills out his NCAA men’s bracket for the cameras, completely forgetting that there is, you know, also a women’s NCAA tournament going on at the same time.

In any event, Karzai has promised, under international pressure, to “review” the law, although he’s also indicated that he doesn’t understand what the big deal is and the law looked just fine to him the first time the Shias came to him and said sign this and we’ll support you, but whatever.

Yes, it’s reassuring that the president of a country whose brand new constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women doesn’t understand why it’s okay to sign a law that makes women living under Sharia the powerless slaves of their husbands or fathers. And you know who else doesn’t understand it? The parliament that passed the law. One female lawmaker gave a statement to the media that effectively said: Meh. It could’ve been worse.

Indeed, it could’ve been. And no doubt the next time Karzai needs to suck up to some fucking brutal bullshit hater minority, it will be. A government is only as good as those who are exploiting it for their own personal power, after all. And the government of Afghanistan’s first democratically-elected president has been marked by corruption on a scale that you’d normally think possible only in a land ruled by a thousand different warring despots.

Oh, wait.

And our prospects of changing Afghanistan into a nation that gives a good goddman about women are not particularly good. Look at another one of the fucked-up ‘Stans: Pakistan, our long-time Cold War ally. In 1988 they elected their first female head of state (and first female head of a Muslim country, ever), something the US has yet to accomplish. Of course, these days, they’re not so much into electing women into office as beating them publicly for being seen on the street with a man to which they are not related.

Readers, you know your country is fercockt when the same dude screaming that the release of the video of said beating is a conspiracy against Islam, is also claiming that the woman got off lightly, and rightly should have been put to death.

In other words, the video is fake because the real one would’ve been way worse? Fucking yikes, dude.

There is no winning here, readers. Given the fluidity of the border and the sympathies of the Pakistanis, there is no ridding Afghanistan of terrorists without also invading Pakistan, and we do not want to invade Pakistan. Maybe next year, if we economize, you know, and cut back on the bank buyouts, and make a few big payments on our credit card.

Until then, as far as I’m concerned, Afghanistan is Vietnam, and Pakistan is Cambodia, and we need to take our lumps and walk away. There is no winning of hearts and minds possible anymore. We are too far gone for that. And maybe all the people who believe that our retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq will mean collapse of the region are wrong, just like all the Domino theorists were wrong.

Frankly, besides the welfare of the women of these countries, whom we appear to be powerless to help anyway, I can’t see a reason to stay one more minute.


Coaster Punchman said...

"Fucking yikes, dude." That about sums it up, unfortunately.

SkylersDad said...

Thousands of years of them being the same, many others have tried to come into their country (invade), and we have the balls to think we can pull it off.

Not one more minute over there is right. Pack our fucking bags and come home, never to return.

Liberality said...

Not that it means a god damned thing, but I remember back when we first invaded Afghanistan that Laura Bush got on television and talked about how our country was going to help women over there because they were treated so horribly. Yeah, I can see that is working out.

I do think Obama made a huge mistake in attributing Afghanistan's horrendous treatment of women as "culture". He should be smarter than that. And it took him long enough to say anything at all about it.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. It was over the minute the Bush administration outsourced the capture of Bin Laden. How many more have died since then? Bring them all home.

Bubs said...

Damn. My hope that maybe we'd be able to bomb Afghanistan out of the stone age was misplaced.

Some Guy said...

Yes. Bring them home. Bring them all home. Quit all the fucking around and just do it.

dguzman said...

Best. post. ever.

jadedj said...

Great post. Unfortunately it more and more appears that even the best of us (Obama) operates from the old bull-shit American arrogance school of thinking. Get the fuck out. We will accomplish nothing there. I can hear the chauvinist bastards laughing at us this very moment.