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Ethics & Religion
May 5, 2021
Column #2,073
Do Not Leave Afghanistan
By Mike McManus

After a war that has lasted 20 years, President Biden has decided "It is time to end this forever war." The U.S. will withdraw all remaining forces by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks that destroyed New York's World Trade Center, killing thousands.

"We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago," Biden said. "That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead, and al-Qaida is degraded in Afghanistan and it's time to end this forever war."

He said we can't continue our military presence in Afghanistan "hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result. I'm now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan, two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass the responsibility onto a fifth."

However, if America is trying to save money from foreign deployment of U.S. troops, why are there still 53,732 U.S. troops in Japan which we conquered in 1945? Why are there 33,959 still in Germany who we defeated more than 75 years ago? Why not return 50,000 to 90,000 of these troops - rather than worry about the 2,500 still in Afghanistan?

The proposed pullout would leave our allied government in Kabul to fend off itself against the Taliban which already controls more territory now than at any time since the U.S. toppled the group from power in 2001. This could prove disastrous for Afghans who collaborated closely with the U.S.

No one would suffer more than females who were systemically victimized under the Taliban. Girls were forbidden to attend school or to work outside the home or even to travel outside their home unaccompanied by a male relative.

Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries in the world for women, after only Yemen and Syria according to an index kept by Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

In most rural areas, life has changed little in centuries. Women wake at dawn, do much of the heavy labor in the home and in the field. They wear the traditional coverings that conceal them from head to toe. One in three girls are married before age 18, most often in forced marriages, according to U.N. estimates.

Religious conservatives who dominate Parliament have prevented passage of a Protection of Women bill.

In Kabul, the nation's capital, Sultana Karimi, 24, is a hair stylist in her Beauty Salon. She never experienced the rule of the Taliban over Afghanistan. She worries that her dreams will come to an end if hard line militants regain power. "With the return of the Taliban, society will be transformed and ruined. Women will be sent into hiding. They will be forced to wear the burqa to go out of their homes."

She wore a bright yellow blouse that draped over her shoulders as she worked, a style that is a bit daring even in the all-women space of the salon. It would have been totally unacceptable under the Taliban.

In fact, the Taliban banned beauty salons in general, part of notoriously harsh ideology that often hit women and girls the hardest, including forbidding them education and the right to work or even to travel outside their home unaccompanied by a male relative.

With 54% of the nation's 36 million people living below the poverty line of $1.90 a day, runaway government corruption has swallowed of millions of dollars.

At a bakery in Kabul's Karte Sakhi neighborhood, 60-year-old Kobra squats in a brick shack blackened by soot in front of a clay oven dug into the floor. The work is backbreaking. Smoke fills her lungs, flames scorch her. She earns about 100 Afghanis a day, the equivalent of $1.30 after paying for firewood. She is the only wage-earner for her, her sick husband and five children.

America's 2,500 troops in the nation are not fighting a war. They are a stabilizing force for the local Afghan government and for the protection of the rights women and girls to education and a career outside the home.

If America's goal is to reduce troops stationed abroad, let's start with the 160,000 active-duty personnel who are currently stationed in a remarkable 150 nations.

Let's urge President Biden to reconsider the pullout from Afghanistan.


Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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