With so many urgent events around the world, Afghanistan is not one we wanted to see again. But its problems do not go away, nor can they with Pakistan next door. We are still there, 10,000 to remain, but with an essential task of trying to train a national defense force so that Afghanistan will not revert to its failed Muslim state position under the Taliban.
Training the Afghan army is much like rolling a rock up a hill. Not only are a majority of soldiers illiterate, but they are also a risk to their trainers. How many times does it happen that an Afghan soldier (mole) lets murderers into a base to shoot foreign and even their own brothers-in-arms? Soldiers and police are constantly at risk from such treachery.
In addition to not being able to fully trust Afghan soldiers, our military trainers are confronting vile cultural practices that must be stamped out if Afghanistan is to become a respectable modernizing country. The practices are particularly ugly and are linked to the most pervasive cultural attitude of the largest and most powerful Afghan tribe, the Pashtoons.
Pashtoons dominate Afghanistan and, unfortunately, their customs are primitive and very ugly. The British in the 19th century admired (and feared) them for their fierce warrior ethos but had little to say about their other customs. This tribe is so misogynistic that their women comprise the most downtrodden in the already misogynistic Muslim world. They are totally secluded, abused with impunity, murdered for "honor crimes" as innocent as looking at a man. One gets the impression that if these men could figure out a way to have babies without women, they would murder them all.
Indeed, what Pashtoons really prefer is sex and entertainment provided by boys. So many wealthy and prominent men (and army officers) keep a stable of pretty boys for sex and to dress as dancing girls at all-male parties. That we call this practice by its Greek name is no coincidence. Pedophilia, the sexual love of boys, dates all the way back to ancient Greece, brought to Afghanistan by Alexander the Great! The Greeks of antiquity were unique in European culture in preferring "love affairs" between grown men and adolescent boys. Women were barely tolerated for childbearing only. Even the custom of veiling and secluding women had its roots in Greece, a custom picked up by Islam.
Afghanistan?s president, Ashraf Ghani, is trying to stamp out pedophilia, and is threatening the rich and powerful who practice it that he will prosecute them. This alone makes him a target for assassination. The Taliban supposedly banned this practice, but this makes them absolute hypocrites because their treatment of women and boys was obviously Pashtoon, which most of them are.
American trainers have been blamed lately of looking the other way when they see this abuse of children. This is an easy accusation to make but is really unfair. The trainers are dealing with trainees so untrustworthy and ignorant and with tribal leaders so powerful that they already have a hopeless situation.
Meanwhile, a small group of educated Afghans is also pushing that rock uphill in an attempt to transform this failed state. This is not a new problem. Between the two world wars, several Muslim countries undertook modernization, beginning with the biggest hidden issue: emancipation of women.
Kamal Ataturk in the new Turkish Republic outlawed the veil and the fez, a brimless hat worn by all men, for ease in praying (touching their heads to the ground). He mandated modern dress for women and fedora hats for men, a great slap at Islam. He also changed the country?s alphabet from Arabic to Latin, another slap at Islam. Some people fussed, but the changes were accepted.
Iran, also going through its modernization, was ruled by a fiercely determined Shah, Reza Shah Pahlavi. He banned the veil and fez, but had to use military force to put down the resulting religious riots.
Afghanistan?s modernizing King and Queen did the same, and were murdered. Afghanistan, almost a century later, is still a miserable place.
Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman is a historian, lecturer, and author of God's Law or Man's Law. You may contact her at Lfarhat102@aol.com or www.globalthink.net.