What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan?

Time Magazine make the statement this week, “What happens when we leave Afghanistan” along with a  cover photo and story about Bibi Aisha.

At age 12, Aisha and her younger sister were given to the family of a Taliban fighter in Oruzgan Province under a tribal custom for settling disputes, known as “baad.”

Once Aisha reached puberty, she was married to the Taliban fighter, but since he was in hiding most of the time, she and her sister were housed with the in-laws’ livestock and used as slaves, frequently beaten as punishment for their uncle’s crime.

Aisha fled the abuse, but her husband tracked her down in Kandahar a year ago, took her back to Oruzgan, and on a lonely mountainside cut off her nose and both ears and left her bleeding. She said she still did not remember how she managed to walk away to find help.

Now, this is a horrible story – just like the horrible stories in Half the Sky – but should this be a reason for the United States to remain in Afghanistan (or any other country in the future?)  Writing in The Guardian, Priyamvada Gopal makes a strong case that this is exactly the wrong way to discuss both womens’ rights and the Afghan occupation.

The mutilated Afghan woman ultimately fills a symbolic void where there should be ideas for real change. The truth is that the US and allied regimes do not have anything substantial to offer Afghanistan beyond feeding the gargantuan war machine they have unleashed.

And there is some serious logic to what Michael Shaw of BagNews says:

What happens if we leave???  Didn’t this girl meet this fate after we’d been there nine years?

This cover and the issues surrounding it have been hotly debated in the media.  What do you think?  Should the US remain in Afghanistan to protect womens’ rights?  Is that even working? Are there other, better solutions?  Please leave your comments!

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One Response to What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan?

  1. Jonathan Pizarro-Ross says:

    The woman on the TIME magazine cover is the victim of violence, the most personal, savage form of violence one can comprehend. She has experienced beatings, slavery, possibly rape and severe mutilation all before her 20th birthday. It is understandable why those who read about such an account would desire to have the U.S. military do everything in its power to keep the Taliban from ever re-consuming Afghanistan and inflicting such harm upon women again. Yet, the fact is that the Taliban is growing despite the American presence. In fact, many would argue it is this presence which fuels a renewed Taliban. Regardless, we as human beings have to understand that a culture of violence cannot eradicate another culture of violence. What do I mean by this? I am talking about the violence inflicted upon Afghans by the U.S. military and the violence inflicted upon Afghans by the Taliban and the like. The violence that the TIME article describes is an effect of a culture and society that has a long way to go in terms of pluralism and acceptance. After all, the ruthless men described in the article are undoubtedly products of a familial and societal upbringing that brainwashed them into thinking women are meant to be enslaved. Having the U.S. military kill every Taliban militant will not alter the cultural reality, a reality which is possibly a broader effect of brutal familial cultures. The American presence in Afghanistan has killed not only American personnel, but countless Afghans as well. This war is simply creating greater trauma among the psyche of the Afghans who are exposed to it. It is doing nothing to better the culture of the society in which they live. Violence cannot solve social issues that have lasted for centuries. That is why whether we leave Afghanistan or not, the horror that Afghan women have experienced will continue. The only way the women of that country will see a better future is for the people of that society to take a deep introspective look at themselves. I honestly do not know how this can happen, but I am sure that it cannot happen at the point of a gun. It cannot happen while American forces continue to scar the countryside with bombs and bloodshed.

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