How The Troops-Out Whirlwind Reaps Its Own Rewards.
It was only a few months ago that the Afghan women's leadership - 200 women's organizations, meeting in Kabul - was unequivocal about the lurid peace-talks exit-strategy counselled by the self-proclaimed "anti-war" movement in the rich countries of the west: "Based on the persistent violation of the rights of women and men by the Taliban whether when in power or after, objections were clearly and strongly expressed by all parties participating in this meeting regarding any negotiation with the Taliban."
Their eight-point consensus statement was crystal clear. The International Declaration of Human Rights is "non-negotiable," there should be no power-sharing with criminals, the names of Taliban leaders should not be struck from UN terrorist lists, and so on. As Mary Akrami, director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Centre, explained: "There cannot be national security without women's security, there can be no peace when women's lives are fraught with violence, when our children can't go to schools, when we cannot step on the streets for fear of acid attacks."
Even in the Pashtun heartland - or perhaps especially there - progressive voices were united on the issue. In their Peshawar Declaration last December, Pakhtunkwa's socialists and pro-democratic parties warned about the looming sell-out. Among the declaration's key pleadings, endorsed by a broad coalition that includes the Awami National Party and the traditional "Red Shirt" secularists: "NATO and ISAF are sent to Afghanistan under UN mandate. NATO and ISAF should stay in Afghanistan until terrorism is uprooted, foreign interference in Afghanistan must be stopped and the institutions of army and police are established on solid footings."
Nowadays, even the bravest of Afghan feminists are resigning themselves to the triumph of the pacifist appeasement so long and fervently championed by the west's self-styled "progressives," and the best they can hope for now is a place for themselves in peace talks with their dreaded enemy, as Aryn Baker reports in Time magazine. But as Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, warns: "If you try to settle the conflict in a way that sacrifices human rights in the name of peace, you will end up with neither."
Meanwhile, in the chattering classes, peace for Afghan women and the rights of Afghan women matter as nothing compared to the sanctimony of being "against the war." In the Observer, once a British flagship of progressive internationalism, we read, on the very day Malinowksi's warning appeared in the Washington Post, that Afghan women simply aren't worth fighting and dying for. The writer approvingly cites the subordination of women as Pashtun broodstock - "it works" - and implores us to look rather more kindly upon the Taliban: "They are not beyond redemption."
And so, as though to prove in the most lurid way that the pen really is mightier than the sword, Afghans across the spectrum are preparing for betrayal and abandonment. In Afghanistan, terrorism has worked. It has played the cowardice of the western bourgeoisie like a fiddle. Afghans know this only too well.
Only last week, Afghanistan's clerics decided that the best way to ease the anticipated reintegration of the Taliban into the circles of power in the country is to officially revive barbaric practices derived from 9th-century readings of Sharia law, including stonings, lashing, amputation and execution.
In a 10-point consensus issued at the end of their conclave, more than 300 clerics declared: "The lack of implementation of sharia hodud (punishment) has cast a negative impact on the peace process. We the ulema and preachers of Afghanistan ... earnestly ask the government not to spare any efforts in the implementation of sharia hodud."Meanwhile, a dispatch from Kunduz: A man and woman have been stoned to death on orders from the Taliban. The 23-year-old woman and 28-year-old man were killed because “they had an affair,” said Mohammad Ayob, the governor of Imam Sahib district.
That is what "peace" looks like. That is what "troops out" looks like.