Friday, April 3, 2009

Nation Building

The US is indulging in nation building in Afghanistan, which never was and never will be a nation. Spending funds to provide schools, roads and livelihoods is fine, and if military protection is needed to support this effort and help make it sustainable, then so be it.

But, the world now has two more governments, Iraq and Afghanistan, whose social and political foundation is based on the denial of human rights to large segments of their populations. The denial of rights, often brutal and deadly, is based on a twisted version of basic human rights that asserts the priority of traditional ways and which cannot be criticized, particularly if those actions are based on religion. Taken to the extreme (or not in the case of Afghanistan)religious beliefs can allow anything, including murder and torture, so long as they are grounded in past practices sanctioned by those in power. To point out that this might somehow be wrong is to be branded as prejudiced.

Sorry. I do not believe that we should respect, tolerate, much less fund, any belief that advocates denial of basic human rights whether in the name of religion, tradition or anything else that smacks of "this is our way". It is merely an excuse for brutal discrimination to maintain or re-establish the status-quo ante.

The US and other nations have been spending billions of development aid in Afghanistan, yet the government has recently enacted a law that forbids women to leave the home without obtaining the permission of their husband. Iraq now has a full fledged fundamentalist regime that has dismembered the rights of women and other religious groups. Is this why the US and the rest of the world are pouring money into these newly minted 12th century regimes? Whatever happened to conditionalities?

I apologize for the rant which was caused by reading this today. The tacit approval implied by failure to tie funds to behavior through conditional funding that subsequently results in the re-deployment of abusive beliefs and actions, is outrageous. In fact, all - all of Central Asia was socially better off under the Soviets because at least they enforced equal treatment of women and men and held these perverted religious ideas in check. Let the Russians take back Central Asia for the sake of civilization.

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