In Afghanistan It’s Now All About The Little Girls (1.5)
by: Maximilian C. Forte | Published: August 09, 2009
Women and Children First
And then some more tweets about women…
And back to Afghanistan…
Because it’s all about the civilians (even if it means inventing zero civilian casualty statistics)…
Now here is Mullen’s own voicebox in the mainstream media, Thomas Friedman in The New York Times for 18 July, 2009, writing from Pushghar, Afghanistan, in a opinion piece titled, “Teacher, Can We Leave Now? No.” It’s not the only time in that piece that Friedman, in his role as counterinsurgency op-ed preacher, will arrogate to himself the right to tell us what we can do, and not do. Should we leave Afghanistan? Having tagged along with the Admiral, Friedman pauses to reflect at the opening of the school that Mullen tweets about above:
Mullen noted the smiles, and faithfully Friedman records the delight. We just have to stay, if anything just for the girls, the sweet, smiling little girls of Afghanistan.
Sometimes it is impossible to distinguish between “mission creep” and missionary creeps.
Friedman goes on to tell us that simply removing the Taliban from government and denying “safe haven” for Al Qaeda — both of which have already been achieved, “incidentally” — was never the real mission. No, like in Orwell’s 1984, there is constant revision, always a new war to make war permanent. Now, the new mission is a civilizational one, which in reality will make it as good as permanent. This goes well beyond funding the Afghan national budget for the next 20 years, going well beyond David Kilcullen, adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, outlining a “best-case scenario” for 10 more years of further U.S. and NATO involvement, even beyond the forecast of General Sir David Richards, the incoming British Chief of General Staff, who says NATO will be in Afghanistan for the next 40 years. Friedman beats them all, because we need to be there for a very long long-term: we need to do more than conquer an unconquerable territory, we need to conquer every inch of their minds too. And we cannot stop, not until they look and sound and think and talk just like us.
Rather than the “disarmament of Iraq,” the eradication of weapons of mass destruction, or “regime change,” Friedman in his role as revisionist imperial scribe “informs” us that one of the real goals behind the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was Huntingtonian civilizational transformation:
Which is where women come in, and little girls especially, because if you want to overthrow a civilization that — unlike your own which sexualizes little girls and converts them into pop culture commodities — has gone to extremes to regulate the public appearance of women and their domestic role, then what you do is subvert that civilization from within the household itself. It’s not the only time we see commodification deployed as a weapon of war: so is “development” (increased and more regulated incorporation into the capitalist world economy) and “democracy” (meaning multi-party elections only, with “representatives” who are available for sale to influence peddlers, like in the U.S.).
Girls to the Front Lines
And as Thomas Friedman confirms in his continuing outline for domestic subversion:
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is showerd gifts and flowers from grateful villagers at the opening of the Pushghar Village Girls School, Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, July 15, 2009. The school located in a remote valley 60 miles north of the capitol Kabul was built by "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hands out notebooks at the opening of the Pushghar Village Girls School, Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan, July 15, 2009. The school located in a remote valley 60 miles north of the capitol Kabul was built by "Three Cups of Tea" author Greg Mortenson to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Photos: JCS at http://www.jcs.mil/photoessay.aspx?ID=56
Mike Mullen informed those Afghans present that this was not just their school, to serve their purposes alone:
When you repeat something four times in a short speech, it is not “misspeaking;” it is intentional. Either the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has laid claim to Afghanistan’s children, or, he has used his powers as one of the de facto military governors of the country to unilaterally naturalize himself as an Afghan, thereby entitling himself to speak as if he were one of them, indeed, one with them. In both instances, on his Twitter page and in his speech, the predominant motif is no longer one of bagging the enemy, but rather the “responsibility to protect” — to protect civilians…civilians that such protection in fact puts in harm’s way. It is a cruel and cynical exercise of geopolitical destabilization at the household level.
The person behind the building of the school, Greg Mortenson, told Friedman:
In this dreamscape of imperial democracy, the media will necessarily perform the function they are told to perform, which is more domestic counterinsurgency. Girls, future little mommies, will no longer raise militants or insurgents (a sideways hat tip that acknowledges their current role in doing so) — perhaps they will just be mechanics and insurance salesmen. Most striking of all: “she will have fewer children.”
Is “education” then the Final Solution for Afghanistan? Will American and NATO occupiers — now conquerors of civilizations — use “education” in a manner akin to a Nazi sterilization campaign, or akin to American eugenics?
It would seem so, because the point is not lost on the Taliban. Friedman — not one of the slickest or smartest of the pundits — slips up (the stopwatch says this was about to happen at any moment). He provides the very data to show not just the Taliban reaction, but the degree to which American implementation of this imperial dream has seriously endangered the same little girls:
Of course they would. When US/NATO forces erect themselves to the position of global marital dispute resolution agency (see the article on NATO and the Shia marriage law), and place girls and their education on the front line of battle against the Taliban, then the Taliban must respond. They are meant to: these girls serve as bait. The US/NATO want to project themselves as “protectors” of civilians now — after having killed thousands in air strikes over the past eight years. Protecting them against whom? Protecting them from US/NATO forces? No, of course not: protecting them from the Taliban because the US/NATO placed these girls on the front lines.
Furthermore, Friedman should be worried about his own prescription coming back to haunt him. If it is perfectly reasonable to use violence to engage in cultural transformation, to raise any army against values, then he should watch out that no Americans pick this up as a lesson to be adopted at home.
Women and Children as Human Shields?
The damage is much worse than what happens to little girls who suffer acid attacks on their way to a school about to be dynamited. It delegitimizes education and it invalidates any talk of women’s rights. From now on, both of these will be remembered as tools of imperialism. And those who took action against forms of collaboration with empire, will be remembered as revolutionary heroes, pure altruists who were ready to sacrifice their own flesh and blood rather than surrender it to imperialism. What the US/NATO are doing is effectively erasing women’s rights and women’s education from the Afghan cultural register. It’s as if the US and NATO have decided to become the perverse, grunge version of King Midas — where everything they touch turns to maggot-ridden excrement.
Some could have valid questions about intentionality. Do the founders of these schools establish them with the intention of provoking a Taliban response? In the case above, Mortenson is aware, in advance, of what the Taliban will likely do. Moreover, the building of the school is posed as a direct challenge to the Taliban, as a way of confronting them. These are not just schools built in a war zone, these are schools that are built to be part of the war zone. Others might object that to use the girls in this way was not the intention, that it really is about education, and the Taliban response is not something that can be controlled or predicted with certainty. Others still might place the onus of blame entirely on the Taliban — no one is forcing them to destroy these schools or harm children, regardless of who built the schools and why.
Feminism for War, Afghan Women Against Imperial Salvation
In the corrupt misappropriation of feminist ideals — ideals that suddenly the “traditional family values” set of American imperial conservatives discovered with enthusiasm when their nation invaded Afghanistan — it is disappointing to see the Feminist Majority Foundation lending its voice to war. In “Pentagon Enlists Feminists for War Aims”, Tom Hayden argues, “the Feminist Majority is being used by the Pentagon to advance its war aims,” while two Afghan women’s activists themselves took note of the fact that the FMF has applauded Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan, referring to the escalated military campaign as an effort to “expand peacekeeping forces.” Sonali Kolhatkar (in the first video below as well) and Mariam Rawi also emphasize, in “Why Is a Leading Feminist Organization Lending Its Name to Support Escalation in Afghanistan?” that “the tired claim that one of the chief objectives of the military occupation of Afghanistan is to liberate Afghan women is not only absurd, it is offensive” (see Laura Bush, for example, in the first video below). As Kolhatkar and Rawi explain,
As for how “well” Afghan women have fared in NATO-occupied, post-Taliban Afghanistan,
The only gains afforded to Afghan women were on paper, and little paper was expended. Rapist war lords and other patriarchs serve in the cabinet of Hamid Karzai.
Malalai Joya, the noted Afghan member of the National Assembly who has suffered several assassination attempts in her fight for Afghan women’s rights, has been especially critical of the US/NATO occupation:
The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, echoing the same condemnation of the invasion and occupation, have also pointed out the depths of despair to which Afghan women have fallen since the start of the occupation: self-immolation — suicide by lighting oneself on fire — has never before been an epidemic in Afghanistan as it is today (source).
Women in the Liberating Army
One might be forgiven for thinking that if women’s rights and the dignity of women is so high on the American agenda for Afghanistan, and fobbed off as a trademark of Western civilization and modernity, that even if women continue to fare poorly in Afghanistan then at least women in the occupying army must be doing much better. After all, they offer an example. Don’t they?
Instead, as Congresswoman Jane Harman learned last year, at least 41% of American female veterans say they were the victims of sexual assault while serving in the military. In fact, 29% say there were raped during their military service. “We have an epidemic here,” she said. “Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.” Only 8% of reported sexual assaults in the military were prosecuted. The Pentagon went as far as ordering its expert on sexual abuse, Dr. Kaye Whitley, to ignore a Congressional subpoena to testify about the military’s handling of sexual abuse within its own ranks. It gets worse: the General Accounting Office found that perhaps as many as 50% of cases of sexual assault are never even reported. (Read more from Rep. Harman here.)
To help fill the gap in support, a website was established: the Military Rape Crisis Center, for those who suffered sexual assault, sexual harassment, and/or rape while in the military. It says that 80% of rapes are never reported, and that one in seven women will experience sexual assault while in the military. As many as 85% of those actually convicted of rape or sexual assault are honorably discharged, and the crime does not appear on their records. The overwhelming majority, more than 90%, of American women who report sexual assault while in the military, are discharged before their contract ends, 85% of those against their wishes.
As I have insisted before, do not venture abroad claiming to address the ills of other nations that you yourselves have not solved at home, or even properly addressed.