A deal with the devil

Afghan boy dancing

Citizens of the United States of America and other countries that have armies stationed in Afghanistan may wonder what sort of Afghans have made themselves allies of the forces operating in our names.   An article by Kelly Beaucar Vlahos on antiwar.com sheds a great deal of light on this question.  Vlahos quotes Patrick Cockburn’s remark that “one reason Afghan villagers prefer to deal with the Taliban rather than the government security forces is that the latter have a habit of seizing their sons at checkpoints and sodomizing them.”  There’s a great deal more to it than that, unfortunately.  On 20 April, PBS’ documentary series Frontline will be airing a report called “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan” which should bring this situation to broader notice in the States. 

The portrait Vlahos and others paint suggests that the USA and the other foreign armies are in such a weak position in Afghanistan that they could not remain there if they did not have the support of men who make a lifestyle of enslaving and raping children.  If true, that is not only a reason to call for an end to the occupation of Afghanistan, but also a reason to discard the notion of “humanitarian military intervention.”  Whatever evils we may begin a war intending to stop are likely to be dwarfed by the evils we will have to promote in order to succeed in that war.


  1. lefalcon

     /  April 21, 2010

    BTW – That picture is a deliberate evocation of the cover of _Orientalism_ by Edward Said.

    (I’m just too tired to act like I will now “begin to attempt” to unpack the momentous implications of how somebody apparently framed the depiction of child abuse in modern Afghanistan … in such a way so as to “suggest a connection” to 19th-century European depiction of the Oriental _autre._ Instead I’ll just roughly rub my torso with low-grade sandpaper.)

  2. acilius

     /  April 21, 2010

    That’s interesting. The Frontline episode was on last night, I highly recommend it. They soft-pedaled the angle that was the main theme of the antiwar.com piece I linked to, that the only Afghan groups backing the US military presence in their country are led by men involved in the sexual enslavement of boys. They concentrated on the personal stories of a few individuals.

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