The Difference Between Afghan and American Women

By Bernie on 23 Oct 2009

Happy Girls Playing
Teeter Totter
Flickr-User: Phaedra
Afghan Muslim girl Sharbat Gula
Afghan Girl
Photo by: National

The photo on the right is of typical young girls one sees in every American city. Happy, carefree, and reveling in their youth.

The photo on the left is from the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985 and the unhappy almost angry face belongs to Sharbat Gula, an Afghan girl of perhaps 13 or even 15 years of age back then. Shortly after this picture was taken she was married by arrangement to Rahmat Gul and has been unhappily in denial ever since. I say in denial, because she believes that the plum-colored burka she presently covers herself with "is a beautiful thing to wear, not a curse." Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Now, 24 years later, her days are still empty of joy: every single day she rises before sunrise and prays. She fetches water from the stream. She cooks, cleans, does laundry. She cares for her three children. She has not known one happy day in her life except perhaps the day she was married when she was treated well; that is to say, she didn't have to fetch water.

Azhma Frogh is another Afghan woman who before 9/11 lived an insufferably harsh life under the Taliban. However, Azhma is not in denial. In Sunday's Washington Post (1) she writes that she finds "unbearable the thought of what will happen to the women of my country if it once again falls under the control of the insurgents and militants who now threaten it."

Why is she worried? Because dear reader, our President is not interested in Afghanistan (2). Indeed, during an interview with 60 Minutes (3) last month General Stanley McChrystal revealed that during the past 70 days in Afghanistan he had only talked to President Obama, the Commander in Chief, the Most High, the Great Messiah, the Compassionate, only once in those 70 days.

I imagine the conversation went this way:

The Messiah: "So, General, how long have you been in Afghanistan now?"
The General: "70 days."
The Messiah: "Hmmm. OK, I'll talk to you again, soon."
The General: ?????

Even worse, the administration has leaked to the news media that the president may decide to downsize the entire war effort (4). I see why Afghan women are worried.

Brat at the blog Knee Deep in the Hooah tells us:

If I could, I would make this Global war we are in so personal for those fat cat politicians in the western world, that they would forget all their political gamesmanship and give Wazhma’s family a chance at a decent future. Women such as these are not just props to gain political brownie points. They have names, they have hopes for their childrens’ futures. If I could, I would insist that every “decision-maker” charged with ensuring a safer world for these women and girls, (and by extension our own girls) would have to look at pictures like this every single day, until they rediscovered (discovered?) a moral compass.

Liberals and Democrats constantly brag about how compassionate they are. Obama is not living up to their hype.

By the way, want to see the face of a miserable life? Here is Sharbat Gula in 2002 at the age of 32 or so:

Afghan Muslim woman Sharbat Gula



The Washington Post, Risking a Rights Disaster

As an Afghan woman who for many years lived a life deprived of the most basic human rights, I find unbearable the thought of what will happen to the women of my country if it once again falls under the control of the insurgents and militants who now threaten it.

In 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, the liberation of Afghan women was one of the most important justifications for military intervention. Has the world now changed its mind about Afghan women? Is it ready to let them once again be killed and tortured by militants? Does the world no longer believe in the principles it supported in 2001?

Handing over Afghanistan to those who intend to keep the country centuries behind most of the world -- to men who do not view women as human beings -- would not only call into doubt the global commitment to human rights, it would also raise questions about the commitment of Western democracies to such rights and to democratic values. Bearing in mind how fragile the Afghan government is at this moment, it will not take long for the country's women to come under attack again. The consequences will be even more bitter this time because no matter how limited our success, we have at least managed to act in the forefront of public life in Afghanistan. We have had a taste of what it's like to have rights.


Right Truth, Remember this woman?

Barack Obama doesn't seem interested about the women, children, or American soldiers in Afghanistan. He took time out of his day for interviews with several networks and made a point of talking about his relationship with his wife MEchelle and the women working in the White House, making sure they are treated properly. Too bad he isn't that concerned about women like Sharbat Gula.


Now Public, General McChrystal on 60 minutes talked to Obama once in 70 days

Last week a report was leaked that showed General McChrystal's concern that Afghanistan could be a lost cause if he didn't get additional troops. There was much speculation of how this report was leaked, while there hasn't been much discussion of a new strategy for Afghanistan.

General McChrystal is a General that leads from the front. He is thoughtful and has given a lot of his time to understand the situation in Afghanistan. He was in charge of a unit that captured Saddam Hussein. He is a General, who is battle hardened and has the credentials of someone that should be listened to. Yet he has only talked to the Commander in Chief once in 70 days and runs up against Pentagon bureaucracy. His frustration, though well concealed shows during the 60 minute interview.


LA Times, Obama can't downsize to success in Afghanistan

Implementing his counterinsurgency strategy, Gen. Stanley McChrystal wrote, "requires more forces." If extra troops are not sent, and soon, the "likely result" would be "failure."

One would expect, based on his past statements, that Obama would rush to give McChrystal the forces needed to win what the president described in August as a "war of necessity." Yet that's not the case. The White House has been sitting on the general's report for a month, refusing to allow him to submit his resource request or testify to Congress and leaking to the news media that the president may decide to downsize the entire war effort.

Why this sudden hesitation after so many months of resolute rhetoric? Surely the president cannot be getting cold feet simply because of rising American casualties. Losses are tragic but expected in a tough fight.

Maybe he's panicking over falling public support for the war, especially among his liberal base. Yet this war remains far more popular than the one in Iraq was in 2006 when President George W. Bush approved the "surge." If Obama asks for more troops, Congress is unlikely to oppose him.

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