The United Nations Development Fund for Women reports that Afghan women will demonstrate today.
Hardly anyone in the United States except a few wild-eyed feminists was worrying about Afghan women before we paid our pet warlords to knock off the Taliban in 2001. Now Afghanistan is well on its way to becoming Obama's quagmire, full of angry civilians we've been bombing, reluctant allied troops from NATO, and corrupt local bureaucracies. The situation is FUBAR -- fouled up beyond all resolution.
Under George W. Bush, concern for Afghanistan's women was sometimes trotted out as a justification for our ongoing military adventure in Central Asia. Since our presence there seemed to consist of killing people and wondering why we weren't liked, this seemed more self-serving than anything else.
For people in the United States, Afghan women's situation should force us to think long and hard about the meaning of both international human rights and of solidarity in a world where our country's habit of throwing its military might around is one of the central problems. We do know terrible crimes are being committed . The Taliban's treatment of Afghan women -- denying them education, medical care, even the right to make a living -- was criminal. At least since the late 1970s, Afghanistan has been a terrible place for women.
Yet U.S. power cannot be wielded for good where our troops fear every man is a crazed terrorist out to kill them and where, despairing of better options, we will always end up turning over power to the latest cooperative strongman.
Afghan women are going to have to fight their own way into a peaceful place in their society. Maybe multi-lateral UN projects can assist them; maybe US feminists can help them materially. But they are going to have to win safety and dignity in their own country in their own way.