Pres. Obama reiterated again on “The View” today that he pledged as a candidate to finish the job in Afghanistan, and that’s exactly what he intends to do.
The cover of Time is the exact photo to represent what we’re fighting. Back in the 90s when the Taliban’s brutality against women was brought into the forefront is where I joined this battle. Mavis Leno was one of the women on the front lines back then. That’s how long I’ve believed this battle was important, long before 9/11 happened, with different reasons running into old on that day.
For Afghanistan’s women, an early withdrawal of international forces could be disastrous. An Afghan refugee who grew up in Canada, Mozhdah Jamalzadah recently returned home to launch an Oprah-style talk show in which she has been able to subtly introduce questions of women’s rights without provoking the ire of religious conservatives. On a recent episode, a male guest told a joke about a foreign human-rights team in Afghanistan. In the cities, the team noticed that women walked six paces behind their husbands. But in rural Helmand, where the Taliban is strongest, they saw a woman six steps ahead. The foreigners rushed to congratulate the husband on his enlightenment – only to be told that he stuck his wife in front because they were walking through a minefield. As the audience roared with laughter, Jamalzadah reflected that it may take about 10 to 15 years before Afghan women can truly walk alongside men. But once they do, she believes, all Afghans will benefit. “When we talk about women’s rights,” Jamalzadah says, “we are talking about things that are important to men as well – men who want to see Afghanistan move forward. If you sacrifice women to make peace, you are also sacrificing the men who support them and abandoning the country to the fundamentalists that caused all the problems in the first place.”
However, everything came to a screeching halt for me with Gen. McChrystal’s mind blowing career ending vent, which said more about how the fight in Afghanistan is going than all 90,000 Wikileak documents. Since McChrystal’s firing it’s become clear that Pres. Obama didn’t hear what I heard.
Whatever you believe we’re doing in Afghanistan it’s well beyond fighting some war. We’ve been nation building for years, as I’ve been writing for over a year, certainly since Pres. Obama took ownership of the war. He’s been in the double down mode for some time, with his resolve even stronger, which is now making me decidedly nervous.
However, one thing no one should doubt is that Pres. Obama is doing exactly what he said he’d do as candidate. Counting troops is hardly how to prove it, because if you know anything about the politics of campaigning and war promises of troop strength and withdrawal are worthless. Once a politician attaches his career to a war effort, which in Afghanistan means nation building and dragging a culture into the 21st century, he’s all in. That’s where we find Pres. Obama.
When you look at the women and the importance the symbol of freeing them from bondage sends, you should also understand that this is front and center of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Sect. Clinton has said it countless times.
But in case you missed it, Pres. Obama also knows nation building needs to be done here at home. He said exactly that on “The View” today.
If Democrats want something different they have one choice. Primary Obama with an anti-war candidate for 2012. I’d pay for a ring side seat to see that fight, hear that debate, though I’m not suggesting it, because I vote on foreign policy and even though I’ve now shifted towards a more ambivalent stance on Afghanistan, I haven’t heard one convincing argument for withdrawing, given the stakes.
Human rights are women’s rights, with Afghanistan one of the most important battles against oppression and violence against women that has been waged in history. The message being sent is strong, unless we give up. I just don’t think the current strategy is illustrating it’s the way through any longer.
Women help stabilize countries when they’re made a part of the solution; a country cannot be stabilized without its women being empowered. It’s a foreign policy dictate that many Democratic progressives haven’t embraced.