Re "The other war in Afghanistan," Opinion, Aug. 23, and "A Taliban victory?" Opinion, Aug. 25
In our great effort to demonize Iran, we ignore its state-run family planning, which is one of most progressive and effective in the world.
Because a great portion of Afghanistan is linguistically and religiously an extension of Iran, could we invite them to teach family planning to Afghanistan's women?
It could be more effective than dropping bombs and be more acceptable to the local Muslim population.
Malcolm Potts is right on when he identifies women's rights as an important objective in Afghanistan.
And western Afghanistan, as a cultural extension of eastern Iran, is an interesting amplification that I suppose would normally be missed in deliberations about the future of Afghanistan.
However, women's rights in terms of actual practice only exist where men have compassion, and this is virtually nil in much of this region. Furthermore, compassion is not a learnable trait but rather a matter of temperament. This presents a challenge not addressed by the family-planning solution.
Potts makes a case for sacrificing American lives based on assumptions that all start with "unless."
Like: "Unless we raise the status of Afghan women" and "unless there is a bold, achievable plan to educate women, enhance their autonomy and meet their need for family planning."
He says all this while acknowledging that "women remain enslaved in this patriarchal, tradition-bound culture."
There is no way that the U.S. and NATO militaries are going to change this culture any time soon. All of Pott's desires for women's liberation in Afghanistan have to come from the Afghan people themselves. They have to have the will and desire for change. We cannot force our values on them.
And we should not sacrifice one more American life for a cause that has no endgame.
The article by "Atif B" is hauntingly reminiscent of the words coming out of Saigon four decades ago from the most celebrated critic of our policy in Vietnam, the late journalist David Halberstam.
Just as Atif B today reports on the rigged election in Afghanistan under the corrupt leadership, Halberstam's contention then was that the war in Vietnam was being lost because of the corrupt government there, which had lost the loyalty of the people.
Halberstam's prescient warnings were ignored, and our troops slogged through the country for years.
Today, on-the-ground reporter Atif B, with eyes wide open, asks us to "please begin to demand more honest, responsive, law-abiding behavior from the Afghan government."
Is anyone listening now?