According to an explosive new report from the New York Times, U.S. military forces in Afghanistan are being told to look the other way when it comes to child abuse in the war-torn country. Even when the perpetrators of sexual abuse are American allies, forces in the region are pressured to remain silent in the presence of pure evil.
“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” said Gregory Buckley Jr. in a phone call to his father in 2012, shortly before he was killed on base. His father told him to report the abuse, but Buckley said his superior officers had ordered them to ignore it.
From the NYT report:
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.
The dilemma is obvious. By standing up to this perverted culture, American troops risk alienating their allies and weakening the fight against the Taliban. Military commanders must choose between standing up for a moral right and retaining operational control. When your entire job is to carry out the mission, that’s not much of a choice. And seeing as how at least two Army Special Forces leaders have been removed from duty for intervening on behalf of abused children, the Pentagon’s position is clear. The success of the war takes precedence over Afghani pedophilia.
Except…what is the point? Why are American troops still over there risking their lives if we are in bed with forces every bit as vile as the Taliban? Osama Bin Laden is long dead. In case anyone forgot, the Taliban’s refusal to turn him over led to the initial invasion. While Obama has declared the war over and has set a timeline for withdrawal, we still have boots on the ground. Maybe it’s time to wonder why.
To address this in the context of Afghanistan alone would be a mistake. When the U.S. chooses to use military force, we should give due consideration to what it is we hope to accomplish. If we want to retain and spread a reputation for fairness, equality, and justice, we should be less concerned about “culture” and more concerned about what’s right. This is an unpopular assertion in an age where moral relativism reigns, but there’s no room for debate when it comes to pedophilia.