In Afghanistan, a Just War I argue that the war in Afghanistan, like the Civil War and the Second World War, is bound to remain a case of just war not because of the reasons it was fought but because of it’s consequences, the freeing of Afghan women. True, Afghan women, like freed American slaves and Freed Jews before them, have a long way to go. But there can be little doubt that their liberation has begun and a return of the Taliban would put them back in shackles. Consider this exchange on “This Week:”
ROBERTS: And I think that he, therefore, he has to deliver on Afghanistan. And I also think that one of the things that he can explain is that the difference that it will make for women and girls in Afghanistan if we leave is devastating. (CROSSTALK)STEPHANOPOULOS: I got to say, I bet that’s one thing he’s not going to do. He might give a glancing blow to it. I think he’s going to try to say all we can do is stabilize that country. We can’t create, as Secretary Gates has said, a Valhalla in Afghanistan.
ROBERTS: No, of course not. But people in this country were very excited when they saw those girls going to school for the first time in years, and all of that. And the sense that America was doing something good in the world, which we are all over the world, but a lot of people don’t realize that. And the idea that those people would just be locked up again and repressed is something to make a case for.
This was not the first time Roberts tried to raise the Afghan women’s issue nor the first time George Stephanopoulos dismissed her concerns as naive. In this he merely reflects the determination of the Obama administration to ignore this moral dimension of the War in Afghanistan forces one to conclude that had he been living in the eighteen sixties, he would have sided with realist Stephen Douglas and not with idealist Abe Lincoln.
In other words, he would not have freed the slaves. Instead, he would have used his considerable rhetorical powers to convince the country that the Southerners have the right to live according to their unique set of values and it is wrong of the “imperfect” Yankees to force their own notions of morality on them.
I am delighted that some women’s groups decided to speak out. I wish Laura Bush joined them as, unlike Michelle Obama and her vegetable gardens, she has been active in the cause of Afghan women. Hillary, as always, tows the line of the men for whom she works. I do not like the Afghan war but permitting the re-enslaving of Afghan women is too awful a prospect to contemplate. Yet, by dithering as the British correctly pointed out he effectively undermined public support for the war and by asserting an exclusive national security reason for the war and ignoring it’s moral aspect sought to make the abandonment of Afghan women palatable.