The rape of young boys in Afghanistan by our “allies” is getting a lot of press attention these days, provoked by the revelation that US military personnel who tried to stop it are being disciplined for interfering. Two US officers apparently beat up one of our pet warlords, who insisted on keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave: this kind of rough justice got one relieved of his command and the other is being forced to retire.
The US military denies ordering its personnel to look the other way, but this is a lie: why else would they be discharging one of the Special Forces soldiers who beat up that Afghan commander? If he didn’t disobey orders to ignore the practice then on what grounds are they forcing him out?
Writing in National Review, Mark Krikorian fulminates:
“While punishing our soldiers for roughing up pedophile rapists is outrageous, the general policy that “allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law” (in the words of an Army spokesman) is unavoidable given our policy of semi-colonization. If it were up to me, we’d wash our hands of Afghanistan, making clear that if the Taliban (or whichever armed gang manages to take power) makes the mistake of again serving as a safe haven and training ground for people planning to attack the United States, we’ll come back and kill a bunch of them again. But that until that day, and that day may never come, they’re on their own and are free to go on raping their children, if that’s what their primitive and barbarous culture calls for.”
Krikorian goes on to pose another alternative: go all out and “simply colonize the place.” While he acknowledges this isn’t going to happen – after all, “that’s never worked out well in Afghanistan” – “it would have the advantage of allowing us to impose our (objectively superior) standards on them.” Citing the example of the British suppression of suttee in India, the practice of burning Indian women on their husbands’ funeral pyres, he concludes with a slap at “semi-colonization,” which he says “is forcing us to tolerate the depraved norms of this savage culture without any authority to change them.”
A word about those “objectively superior standards”: Krikorian has it exactly backwards regarding who imposed what standards on whom. While the inversion of truth may not be unusual for National Review writers, it’s particularly egregious in this case because, as I pointed out here – way back in 2002 – it was outrage at the prevalence of boy rape that brought the Taliban to power in the first place.
It was the winter of 1994, and in the southern city of Kandahar two warlords were at each other’s throats. The issue: who would get to rape a boy desired by both of them. In the gun battle that followed, several bystanders were killed, and the villagers appealed to Mullah Omar, leader of the nascent Taliban, who freed the boy and restored order.
This uprising was how Kandahar came to be the bastion of the Taliban’s power, the base from which they spread their strict Islamic law throughout the country. Wherever they went, they suppressed the practice of bacha bazi, as it is called, but when the US military arrived to “liberate” the country, the practice returned.
The commanders of the pro-US “Northern Alliance,” hailed by neoconservatives as the vanguard of Afghan “democracy,” were the very same pedophile-rapist warlords who had been driven out by the Taliban. To this day, these guys are top officers in the US-trained-and-funded Afghan military and police, whose sexual proclivities are now the occasion for self-righteous denunciations from the very same people who cheered on the conquest and occupation of Afghanistan.
To be clear: we are on the side of the boy-rapists of Afghanistan, and have been from the very beginning.
The scribes over at National Review lionized the Northern Alliance as “liberators”: neocon radio host Hugh Hewitt even had a cadre of “war bloggers” who dubbed themselves the “Northern Alliance,” working in tandem with the laptop bombardiers of National Review.
These are the last people on earth who have a right to protest the rape of Afghan boys. Writing in 2006, Clifford May, head of the neocon Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, informed readers of National Review about a bit of street theater in India. Snarking “I kid you not,” May cited this PBS report:
“While the rest of the world continues to search for Osama bin Laden, FRONTLINE/World correspondent Arun Rath has found America’s most-wanted man – or a theatrical facsimile of him – on the streets of Calcutta. … Rath traveled to India to see a wildly successful jatra, or street opera, about September 11 and its aftermath. …
“[T]he opera takes a surreal turn as Bush aides appear on stage. They appear as bloodthirsty, maniacal men who seethe with rage and are even more despicable than bin Laden himself. ‘Let corpses of babies and old people – civilians – litter the streets!’ one of the men proclaims. Then when the scene shifts to Afghanistan, American-backed Northern Alliance soldiers are depicted raping women and killing babies, then celebrating in drunken dances.”
“There’s more,” he wrote, providing the link, “if you can stand it.”
In retrospect, it seems like the author of that little street play had it right – except for the gender of the rape victims.
What happened to that boy who was chained to a bed is a metaphor for what we have done to an entire nation. The rape of Afghanistan by the US is a crime that we are presently paying for with the resurgence of the Taliban, the rise of ISIS, and the complete failure of our military project in the region.
Remember the triumphalist cries of the neocons, who hailed the glorious victory of the Northern Alliance and the establishment of the Karzai regime in Kabul? Does anyone recall neocon enforcer David Frum’s polemic against antiwar conservatives and libertarians, wherein he took me in particular to task for predicting – accurately, as it turned out – that Afghanistan would turn into a quagmire. He wrote:
“The week after the fall of Kabul, Raimondo acknowledged that though the Afghan war seemed to have succeeded, disaster lurked around the corner: ‘The real quagmire awaits us. . . . When the history books are written, Operation Enduring Freedom will be hailed as a great success – provided it doesn’t endure much more than a few weeks longer.’”
Fourteen years later, our troops are bunkered up with a bunch of Afghan pedophiles, forced to listen to the screams of boys being buggered in the billet next door, as the Taliban edge ever closer to Kabul.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
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You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.