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Biden’s most heartless betrayal America cares more about pronouns than the fate of Afghan women

Is this what Biden wants? (Getty)


August 18, 2021   6 mins

“I’ve been clear,” President Joe Biden told the American people on Monday, “that human rights must be the centre of our foreign policy, not the periphery. But the way to do it is not through endless military deployments. It’s with our diplomacy, our economic tools, and rallying the world to join us.”

As I listened to those words, I found myself admiring the political skill of Biden’s speechwriters — and despising their utter callousness. I wanted to shout at the TV: But what about the 19 million women now sentenced by American foreign policy to a life of darkness under the Taliban? Surely they deserve human rights, too?

Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that American diplomacy will make the Taliban treat women fairly? Is “rallying the world” remotely likely to keep Afghan girls in schools, or allow women to walk down the streets of Kabul with their faces uncovered? Do you take us all for fools?

The Biden administration’s cool, calculated and yet incompetent abandonment of the Afghan people stems from two core problems.

The first is a failure of imagination. Biden claimed to have planned for every contingency. So did he not consider evacuating the Afghans who qualified for special immigrant visas and their families (an estimated 80,0000 individuals) before withdrawing all US special forces? Was the pandemonium at the airport so very hard to foresee?

On a larger scale, there was a massive failure to imagine what American interests in the region are, how to protect them and what the repercussions of ignoring them could be. To Biden, America’s “only vital national interest in Afghanistan 
 [is] preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland”. This is short-sighted.

In reality, this chaotic, humiliating withdrawal significantly increases the risk of a terror attack on the US homeland. Aside from revealing a dysfunctional American foreign policy apparatus, in intelligence terms Afghanistan is now a black hole. Even if we are able to extricate some of our Afghan intelligence assets, the US has lost a key source of information on jihadist activity.

A little bit more imagination would also have revealed how China, Iran and other current adversaries will likely use the Afghan fiasco to their advantage. Did the President not consider how his actions in Afghanistan could embolden Xi Jinping’s dream of a “reunification” with Taiwan?  Is the US now in a stronger or weaker negotiating position with regard to the Iranian regime? Did the President project enough power this week to convince his Russian counterpart to crack down on the ransomware attacks that appear to emanate from his territory?

And what about our allies? Will India trust the US as the leading partner of the Quad (along with Australia and Japan) designed to check the growing power of China? How about our European partners and the transatlantic alliance?

The second problem informing Biden’s approach concerns the moral decay of Western civilisation. When a fish decays, the head rots first. The same can be said for the West. We’ve become so focused on microaggressions in America that we have lost sight of the macroaggressions happening to women around the world.

In my latest book, Prey, I argue that the modern-day feminist movement in the West does not take seriously the concerns of women in working-class communities, many of whom have immigrant backgrounds, and who face a steady rise of sexual harassment and assault on the streets of their own neighbourhoods.

In today’s perverse American culture, however, more attention is devoted to the use of preferred gender pronouns than to the plight of women whose most basic rights — to education, personal autonomy, the right to be present in a public space — are either removed or under serious threat.

What we’ve witnessed this week in Afghanistan is a watershed moment in Western decline. American culture today tells us not to be proud of our country; not to believe in the superiority of American values; not to promote the rights we are afforded by our Constitution so that they can be enjoyed by people around the world.

When rights are promoted, they tend to be “progressive” interpretations. We’ve reached a point where we proudly flew the LGBT flag from our embassy in Kabul when the going was good, but have now abandoned Afghanistan’s gay population to the Taliban. Meanwhile, the US Navy’s reading list now includes books such as Sexual Minorities and Politics and How to be an Antiracist, both of which paint a bleak picture of the United States, its history and its identity.

How, then, can we hope to defend the basic rights of women and minorities elsewhere? American self-confidence has morphed into nihilism; we’re all talk and no action beyond retreat. That is why women’s rights activists, interpreters and anyone who has worked with the American people have been forced to hide in Afghanistan while the Taliban go door-to-door looking for them.

What will now happen to the women of Afghanistan? When asked if women’s rights will be respected, the Taliban governor of the Andar district in Ghazni province, Mawlavey Kamiil, said: “We assure this to people all over the world, especially the people of Afghanistan: Islam has given rights to everyone equally. Women have their own rights. How much Islam has given rights to women, we will give them that much.” Similarly, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Enamullah Samangani, has promised that women “should be in the government structure according to Sharia law”.

This caveat is important: women will only have the rights afforded to them by Islam. Under orthodox Sharia law, women can inherit property but not at the same level as men (generally half as much); women can testify in court but their testimony is not equal to a man’s word; women have a right to divorce under specific circumstances but not a unilateral right (as men have); a male guardian is essential for a woman; a woman can have one husband whereas a man can have up to four wives.

Yet the texts of Sharia law do not fully capture the brutal reality of daily life for women under a regime like the Taliban’s. In the last period of Taliban rule, which ended with the invasion of 2001, women were forced to wear the burka when outside, if they were allowed to leave the house at all. They were not educated in any meaningful sense (other than, in some cases, the most basic religious education). They were forced into marriages (often as young girls) with men who used them as chattels. Brutal punishments for small transgressions made women little better than slaves.

We must not forget Bibi Aisha, who was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in 2010. As a young woman, she attempted to escape from her abusive husband (whom she had been forced to marry), but when the Taliban caught her, they had her ears and nose chopped off. Or Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 by a Taliban fighter because she dared to advocate for girl’s education.

Now, the Taliban are claiming that women and girls will be able to continue their education, as long as they wear full burkas. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen explained that the “policy is that women can have access to education and to work”. However, the reality for Afghan women seems rather different; they are now, for example, barely to be seen on the streets of Afghan cities.

Yes, the “modernised” Taliban has done some media training, but we should not be fooled. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be governed by the same draconian Sharia law as the Taliban regime of the past. Reports are already emerging of girls being taken as child brides, with the Taliban “ordering local religious leaders to give them a list of girls over 15 years of age and widows under 45” to marry their fighters.

Women’s faces are being whitewashed from billboards throughout Kabul. Women in Kandahar have been told not to return to their jobs at Azizi Bank, and that instead “male relatives could take their place”. In a small village in the Faryan province, the Taliban knocked on doors and demanded to be fed. If women protested, they were beaten and even killed. This is just the beginning.

Over the last several days, I’ve wept bitter tears for the women and girls whose futures are now blighted through no fault of their own. I have felt an overwhelming sense of impotence, even as I have personally tried to help get vulnerable people out of Kabul. But this sense of impotence is now giving way to a feeling of anger and of renewed purpose.

We have to do better. We have to solve this disease of moral decay within our own society and improve our imaginative skills. American decline is not inevitable. It is a choice. Standing by our allies is a choice. Standing up for human rights is a choice.

Having blundered into this wholly predictable mess, Biden has no option but to fight until every American is safely out of Afghanistan. But he can’t stop there. He should throw his weight behind saving every Afghan who has risked life and limb for America. He needs to get women’s rights activists and leaders out of the country.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan may be the future for Afghanistan. But it can’t be the future for the brave people who risked their lives to fight barbarity.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also the Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her Substack is called Restoration.

Ayaan

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Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago

Well said.
Unfortunately I think that the US is now well on the way to follow the path of Ancient Rome. The fall of the latter led to the dark ages from which the west only emerged during the Renaissance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same happened now.
And for sure any US ally that trusts the US to provide any sort of defense or help is living in cloud cuckoo land.
And I’m sure that the Taliban are listening carefully to the “very strongly worded” letter of our UN Ambassador and our State Department Spokesman expecting that the Taliban government will follow diversity, inclusion and equity guidelines. How embarrassing is it to have such people as our representatives and be the face of the US. It’s like something out of the Babylon Bee.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Personally I never settle down in the presence of extremely dangerous madmen. I doubt the world is any different.

Besides, the Trump started the pull-out, and four presidents from two different parties presided over the costly failure. Why pin it all on Biden?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I think you should read the account in Unherd yesterday as to the approach of various presidents including Biden over the years.
Besides that, the main issue is not whether to pull out, it is the execution of the pull out. That is what is being pinned on Biden and rightly so. I even saw a clip of him promising that the withdrawal would be orderly and Kabul would not be under threat. He or his handlers are fools.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Why would you think that any other president would have done much better – particular that orderly, competent, self-controlled and truthful Trump? Of course Biden is going to say that the withdrawal wil be orderly and Kabul will not be under threat. Was he going to say the opposite? Or was he going to stay in if he could not guarantee an orderly withdrawal? An orderly withdrawal would seem to require an explicit surrender to the Taliban for a specific date – with a huge influx of US troops to protect the evacuation, because from the moment that surender is announced, no Afghan will fight the Taliban. Biden did not do well, and there was a huge lot of wishful thinking and ignorance behind his plans. Unfortunately that seems to have been the case for the last 20 years, to get to where we are now.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Biden rushed the withdrawal to meet the anniversary of 9/11. It would have made great optics in the reports of his fawning media.
It was a spectacularly pointless and unnecessary blunder, and one that will have ramifications for decades. He should have ensured, at the very least, that US citizens, and everyone who assisted the US Army during the occupation were evacuated first. They’ve now all been thrown to the wolves.
There was simply no need for this rushed shambolic withdrawal and the scenes at Kabul airport will be a nasty stain, possibly a defining one on Biden’s entire political career, not just his presidency.

yp54797wxn
yp54797wxn
2 years ago

I don’t understand why leaving on 911 would have been important. That is the date the enemy reveres. We hate it, remember?

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  yp54797wxn

I agree. I can only conclude that some polititician/PR guru planned a celebratory campaign gala. It was going to be glorious and then reality struck.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

I think your comments about the rushed arbitrary withdrawal are fair, though actually would it have made any difference when this happened? We are talking about a few thousand military and other advisors here. On the longer timescale, Biden was more realistic, in my view, than most other politicians in opposing Afghan intervention.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I do not think it likely that any other president would have acquitted themselves better and especially not The Donald. To have so little idea about what was really going on on the ground and being caught off guard so monumentally indicates failure in intelligence, bad advice etc. which could have happened to any incumbent. But the fact is that Joe Biden is now the President of the United States of America and the one with whom the buck stops for this disastrously executed withdrawal. He said as much himself in his speech…only to start blaming everyone else! Even if some of the responsibility does lie with the Afghans themselves, this public display of finger-pointing was infantile and showed a real lack of leadership. That is a stain which the USA will struggle to get off its image.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

@Katharine The thing I am struggling with is that I do believe T. would’ve been unpredictable for the Taliban, Biden was no threat. If you want peace, prepare for war. I learnt this ancient lesson recently but I think many of our sorrows today are caused by our softness inducing evil.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

I completely agree with you. It’s a form of toxic niceness (coddling) that is rotting the West. Johnathan Haidt wrote about this in his book ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Kriens

Trump was actually negotiating with the Taliban and won a paper Munich style agreement. I don’t particularly blame him any more than any other single individual but it hardly sits well with his tough negotiator image. If the US isn’t going to introduce large numbers of combat troops the Afghan collapse was inevitable.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“I do not think it likely that any other president would have acquitted themselves better and especially not The Donald.”

It is almost certain ANY President in history would have done the withdraw 700% better than the Woke Puppet Biden, led by his agenda driven, incompetent, politically appointed ‘Advisors’. The head of the military was too busy making the Military get pronouns correct, learning to respect sexual, gender, cultural, and racial diversity, land learning how the ‘White Patriarchy’ is responsible for all which is bad in society (and that is everything) – to study the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

Trump had Talaban leaders released from Prison as good faith, had them to Camp David for talks on the inevitable, and would have had their respect (and fear) wile they think Biden a total Pu* sy and contemptible.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Well said.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Biden was apparently warned by intelligence


Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Katherine. I beg to differ. I believe a second-year cadet at West Point could have come up with a much better plan. What we see is a breathtaking display of hubris and incompetence. Personally, I am ashamed. The thought that my country put this man in charge is mortifying.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Trump if anything was a businessman and could at least execute a plan; Biden has never held an honest job in his life and was bereft of a ‘skill set’.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Both the US and UK pulled out the vast majority of their combat troops years ago. If in fact a few thousand military advisors and trainers were needed to prevent the overnight collapse of the Afghan state, then I am sorry but after 20 years involvement, I think we can reasonably draw the conclusion that such a collapse would have occurred whenever such a withdrawal took place, under any President. I know some people on here just want to use this in their endless culture war tirades, but on this issue the differences between the policies Trump, Biden, Johnson, May, Cameron or whichever Western leader you care to mention are nugatory.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I cannot agree. Even if you have the attitude that be damned with the natives or something similar, as Joe has been recorded saying – at the very least you withdraw your sophisticated weaponry, allow time to withdraw your personnel safely and maintain a controlling presence while you process applications for refugee status. I do wish people would stop making excuses for Biden. He should not have a job based on what has unfolded, what he has said before and of course the fact that he isn’t in charge of the USA.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
yp54797wxn
yp54797wxn
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Because Biden pulled out in the most ill conceived and catastrophic way possible. The deal Trump struck with the Taliban has been violated over and over by the Taliban, rendering the agreement null and void. Biden didn’t have to do this. He chose to.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  yp54797wxn

According to Pompeo, the deal ended when the Taliban refused to meet in Turkey to settle power sharing arrangements. But Trump was on the way out.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

As Pompeo notes, the Trump negotiations stopped when the Taliban refused to meet in Turkey over power sharing arrangements. But facts won’t matter.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

You’re still spinning the ‘madman Trump with his finger on the NUKE button’ stuff? Did he start any wars during his presidency? Were we ever on the brink of nuclear apocalypse under his leadership, as all the hysterical lefties would often screech?
America’s enemies certainly knew he wasn’t to be pushed around- Iran was slapped down, China made no significant moves. They’re all emboldened now with Biden at the helm, and during this joke presidency over the next 2-3 years I expect China to make some sort of major play, and flip the balance of global power in their favour going forward.
America has never looked this weak and vulnerable in our lifetimes.

Philip LeBoit
Philip LeBoit
2 years ago

The Donald did float the idea of war with Iran toward the end of his term, but was nixed by the military, and lacked the attention span to see it through. He also lacked the attention span to persist in pressuring North Korea, or possibly realized that like his predecessors, he had no choice but to accept the reality of a nuclear absolute monarchy. Most likely, Biden will be pushed by his handlers to over-react to the next crisis to prove his toughness.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“You’re still spinning the ‘madman Trump with his finger on the NUKE button’ stuff?”

Come on – obviously I used that ironically – what it is is that Trump is thought dangerious, and to be prepared to use force for aggression prevents most aggression.

Kevin Carroll
Kevin Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Why do you think America pulled out now . Because by the next election. 3 years away Afghanistan will be long forgotten. And Biden’s handlers know this.

Dr Anne Kelley
Dr Anne Kelley
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Carroll

Biden’s forgotten already, I imagine!

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago
Reply to  Dr Anne Kelley

Biden didn’t know in the first place, and still doesn’t know.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Carroll

Long forgotten? Are you serious? The ramifications of this will stain Biden and US foreign policy for decades to come

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

The news cycle may move on, but world leaders are quite concerned, as they should be.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Carroll

You must be joking. The world will not allow the US to forget. The hornet nest has been opened.

Norm Haug
Norm Haug
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Carroll

In less than three years, Afghanistan will be exporting terrorists.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Carroll

I really wouldn’t bet on that. The repercussions of this will be felt for many years. Personally, I think he’s just tipped the domino.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

You’re very probably right. The barbarians aren’t at the gates, they’re inside, running the asylum.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

The ‘woke’ about whom I entirely agree with you, don’t give a damn about actual gay people or women suffering severe repression in other parts of the world. It is all about a navel gazing intra-US culture war, within which you seem to be largely invested yourself. However if you seriously think Trump or Trump-ism is the solution, endless tantrums and threats to use nuclear weapons (can’t Putin do the same?) then your judgement must be even worse than I suspect it is already.

Unfortunately there probably IS no solution unless the US engages in root and branch political reform (among other things) but given the extreme polarisation there I don’t see how that is going to be possible. Unfortunately for your side, the Democrats have the demographic majority in the US and the Republicans haven’t won the popular vote in a presidential election since 2004.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Popular vote from only two places – CA and NY. Both have recently lost some of their population as people vote with their feet.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 years ago

So far since Trump was voted out by the media :

Iran is preparing the Bomb while also attacking ships in international waters.

Anti semites have tried to start another war with Israel

China has pushed the border with India

Putin has started putting further pressure on Ukraine whilst securing the dependence of Europe on his gas pipeline.

The Taliban has been handed the keys to Kabul with lists of people who assisted the US and who now face a firing squad.

But it’s Trump who didn’t know what he was doing, apparently.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

The points you raise are true but it’s worth keeping in mind that Trump signalled the withdrawal from Afghanistan, so on that count Biden and Trump are both culpable because Biden continued what Trump had begun.

David NebeskĂœ
David NebeskĂœ
2 years ago

The problem is not the withdrawal, but the method of withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
2 years ago

Biden has reversed every other Trump policy he has inherited, apart from, it seems, this one. In any case, Biden is the president, so he owns the problem.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

But Trump was ending the negotiations because of Taliban resistance.

Philip LeBoit
Philip LeBoit
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

Ask a Kurd if he knew what he was doing….and he did a fine job with North Korean denuclearization.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

They’ll be lucky to get a firing squad. A dull sword is more likely.

John Wilkes
John Wilkes
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

None of the people you mentioned are the real villains, it is those who use an ‘incorrect’ pronoun or told a bad taste joke 30 years ago who we must focus on.
Rome is well alight and a senile old man who would struggle to find his brain with a map is playing the fiddle.
When the Taliban, via their Southern branch take control of Pakistan (and their nukes) things could get a little interesting.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Wilkes
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
2 years ago

In today’s perverse American culture, however, more attention is devoted to the use of preferred gender pronouns than to the plight of women whose most basic rights — to education, personal autonomy, the right to be present in a public space — are either removed or under serious threat.
This is the most important sentence in this important piece, which needs to be repeated again and again until it is heard and not only on unherd…

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

This is the most important sentence in this important piece, which needs to be repeated again and again until it is heard and not only on unherd

Indeed. You have homed right in on the central issue.
What we have to grasp clearly here, is that it is also the men who run western societies who have themselves still not come to understand that they constitute the minority in their own countries.
If we want majority rule, that means nothing less than that women rule!
Until this realisation dawns upon western men, the Taliban will continue to hold up a mirror to them, to enable them to reflect upon their own hypocrisies.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

That’s why the United States of America is a Constitutional Republic. I guess that aspect of history has gone completely over your airless head.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Eaton

I guess that aspect of history has gone completely over your airless head.
That is abuse. It is personal abuse of me. It is a classic form of men’s verbal abuse of women. That is what the Taliban do—abuse women.
Yours is not a reply worthy of serious public discussion. Everyone knows that attacking the person reveals an inability to deal with the actual issues.
For your information, I hold a doctorate, so on no account could my head be called airless. And I am entitled to be accorded respect if you wish to converse with me.
I am calling you out, and I’m highlighting that you are a case in point of the argument I was making—evidently you belong to that portion of western men who still don’t understand the extent to which they are part of the problem.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Which hypocrisies are you referring to?

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I am referring to the full range of what we mean when we speak of “the pot calling the kettle black”, i.e. western men speaking self-righteously about Taliban atrocities against women while ignoring the horrifying levels of domestic abuse, rape, discrimination in the workplace, violence in public places, etc., all of which are alive and increasing in western countries. Basically, I mean everything western feminism has documented since the last world war.
In Australia, where I live, the greatest threat to a woman’s life is not disease or old age, but being killed by her partner. Usually she’s not beheaded with a mediaeval axe, no, but dead is dead, when all is said and done. And it’s certainly not only the Taliban who whip and beat women.
So the Taliban are reflecting back to western men their own still unacknowledged shadow.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Personally I think you’re response is a bit hysterical and certainly over the top (and that view has nothing to do with your gender). The fact is that women in the West can do exactly as they want and they have all the opportunities available to them. When you complain and compare the situation in the West to that imposed by the Taliban and to the medieval beliefs of the Taliban dating back to the Arab Peninsula in the 8th century, you completely lose any sense of perspective and realism. My personal suggestion is that perhaps you should take a trip to Afghanistan and see what it’s really like, and perhaps then you’ll realize just how good all of us have it in the West.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Personally I think you’re response is a bit hysterical and certainly over the top (and that view has nothing to do with your gender).
Erm, it has everything to do with my gender. Men simply don’t accuse each other of being hysterical. Only women. Are you aware that that is one of the most frequently used and best known forms of verbal male sexism? The minute a woman says something with which the man disagrees, he accuses her of being “over emotional” or “hysterical”.
Please go and inform yourself—read a couple of feminist authors to find out what women’s experience of these things actually is.
The fact is that women in the West can do exactly as they want and they have all the opportunities available to them.
What you claim is simply untrue. Again, all I can say is, please go and read up on things like equal pay, employment discrimination, domestic violence and modern slavery, safety in public places. There is a vast literature of fully documented facts, easily accessible. There is no way I can address the whole subject from scratch in this space.
When you complain and compare the situation in the West to that imposed by the Taliban and to the medieval beliefs of the Taliban dating back to the Arab Peninsula in the 8th century, you completely lose any sense of perspective and realism.
I related Taliban whipping, beating and killing of women to western men’s practices of these same behaviours in domestic abuse situations. Where do you think these western abuses of women come from? Why do they exist? By pointing up their presence in our own supposedly modern societies, I was trying actually to introduce some close-to-home realism into the comfortable abstract discussion of things far away. I was not making whole-of-society comparisons, nor was I implying that we are as bad as the Taliban. I was just trying to bring it down to specific, real things that happen with us, too—do these things with us date back to mediaeval beliefs? Why are you so reluctant to think about this?
My personal suggestion is that perhaps you should take a trip to Afghanistan and see what it’s really like, and perhaps then you’ll realize just how good all of us have it in the West.
Here’s the facts: I have lived in several parts of Asia and had extended experience of living in conservative Muslim societies, with Muslim families, although not in Afghanistan. So I do know what it’s really like, firsthand. I even got engaged, narrowly escaped a clitoridectomy, and fled for my life. I fled a fate worse than death. I know exactly how utterly unspeakably revolting life is for women in those societies. No freedom and no privacy. Not even for a minute.
But here’s the other firsthand fact: I also know that life in the modern west, while far and away better for women than any Muslim society (beyond comparison), is nevertheless also awful for women, compared with the situation for western men.
So what really infuriates me is western men’s ignorant arrogance and entitled complacency. We simply cannot afford it. I know how easy it would be to slip back into some of that darkness again.
Please ask yourself: what made you assume that this woman didn’t know what she was talking about, such that it gave you the right to offer her such condescending, paternalistic advice? Could you just possibly be a male sexist? Oh no
 no, no no
!

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Sorry, mate, you are factually wrong in everything you say about me.
Just stop your disgracefully ignorant, arrogant, condescending putdowns and personal attacks on me. You know nothing about me. You ask no questions. You just pontificate on the basis of your own fantastic, diseased imaginations.
if you can’t discuss issues instead of attacking other commenters, then kindly get off this thread and leave the rest of us some clean space. Thankyou!

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Of course women shouldn’t be called hysterical .Any word denoting women that derives from the Greek for womb implicitly silences trans women and renders them invisible .
Trans women can be every bit as unhinged as cisgendered women and women who menstruate .

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

The difference between the Taliban and Western civilization is that treatment of women as chattel is part and parcel of Islam. In Western civilization such treatment is frowned upon and now is illegal. In Christianity we are enjoined to treat one another as children of God, to bear each other’s burdens, and to submit ourselves, men and women, to each other in love. The Taliban execution today of an Afghan woman for her failure to wear a burqua has no parallel in Western society.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Cox

On the one hand , being executed for not wearing a burqa , on the other hand being called hysterical .

Spot the difference

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

To suggest that in Australia the greatest threat to a woman’s life is being killed by her partner rather than disease or old age must be nonsense. How many Australian women die annually of cancer and heart disease?

John Potts
John Potts
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

“In Australia, where I live, the greatest threat to a woman’s life is not disease or old age, but being killed by her partner.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the top five underlying causes of death for women in 2019 were:
1 dementia, including Alzheimer disease
2 coronary heart disease
3 cerebrovascular disease
4 lung cancer
5 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Sorry, many women don’t want to rule. They have other priorities even more beneficial to society.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

There is nothing more beneficial to society than women ruling!
Men often are the peacekeepers, but women are the real peacemakers. But you can’t do anything in the public sphere if you have no power or position.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Do you really believe what you are writing? You are part of the problem.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

Do you really believe what you are writing? You are part of the problem.
That is abuse. You offer no argument, no facts, no supporting evidence, no stories or third party accounts. Nothing. You just sling an accusation at me.
Of course I believe what I’m writing. Lack of information, fake facts, fabricated data, opinionated ignorance—all these are destroying our ability to communicate with each other, hence they are destroying our society.
I care deeply about our human future, and I work fulltime in developing positive directions for our evolution.
I care passionately enough to have spent the past several hours on this page, trying to open up some wider avenues for thought.
I would appreciate it if you would kindly refrain from offering condemnatory, destructive, ungrounded opinionation in response to my comments. I notice you have done it before.
If there’s anything you genuinely want to know, of course I’ll respond, but please don’t waste my time.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Ok let me humour you. “There is nothing more beneficial to society than women ruling!” This is patently ridiculous. Should there be more women in positions of power? Probably and we are moving in that direction. Have all women leaders made good leaders? No.
I find your arguments shrill, divisive and illogical. And no-one is interested in your doctorate if you cannot make a persuasive argument. I will make the point though that at least you do not put Dr in your handle on this site.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

Ok let me humour you. “There is nothing more beneficial to society than women ruling!” This is patently ridiculous.
I asked you to kindly stop your personal abuse.
Offer readers some facts, some evidence, some logical argument and reasoning, some relevant anecdotal evidence, maybe an emotionally valid heartwarming story

This comment space is meant for discussion, not unfounded, unargued, unsubstantiated opinionation and personal abuse of those with whom you disagree.

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Precisely how do you equate the murderous sociopathic behaviour of young, religiously inspired fanatics with your average Joe Bloggs western male? Quite simply: Taliban fighters do not enable themselves by looking at western male behaviour.

Your final paragraph is not even a non-sequitur as it barely pretends to any coherent logic.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

If women are in the majority in western countries is that not because they live longer ?
Why do they live longer than men when subject to so much oppression ,so many micro-aggressions?

I realise you’re not a medical ‘doctor’ but perhaps you can shed light on this mystery .

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

From what I have read, I understand that physiologically women have evolved more towards endurance. Many think this is because of the demands of childbirth and (until recently in the modern west) child-rearing: the need to nurture the next generation. So where women run the marathon, it has been men who sprint forward and more often than not take the lead in bringing in change, and the disruption that often accompanies it.
Psychosocially, women have also usually played the role of peacemakers, in the family and in the larger clan. Again, this has been associated with their responsibility for nurturing as opposed to disciplining. Since women have properly entered public life on a large scale, they are appearing as political leaders with increasing frequency and, notwithstanding the odd Thatcher, on the whole they tend to be more cooperative than competitive in approach. It is worth noting the number of Northern European countries which now have a highly popular female PM or head of state. I think this is a sign of genuine progress.

M P Griffiths
M P Griffiths
2 years ago

Or, as an American friend put it:
“Have you noticed how, when the nasty, Fascist, racist, sexist, homophobic, stupid, misogynistic US military arrives in-country there is a complete absence of hordes of people storming the nearest airport, clinging to helicopter skids or aircraft undercarriages, etc., etc.?”

Neil MacInnes
Neil MacInnes
2 years ago

An orderly withdrawal is not that difficult.
All it requires is a modicum of intelligence and sufficient planning.
You simply do the bulk of the withdrawal first, especially of those people in outlying regions, American civilians followed by Afghan civilians then announce your withdrawal and get your troops and equipment out as efficiently as possible. U.S. forces must have such plans already. The Biden administration blundered totally!

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Neil MacInnes

The logic is fine, except many believed Biden when he said the Afghan army was adequate to hold the nation. We will need an investigation to assess who gave him that information because per https://www.longwarjournal.org/mapping-taliban-control-in-afghanistan was reporting losses early in May illustrating the failures following Biden’s date announcement in March (https://www.factcheck.org/2021/08/timeline-of-u-s-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/).

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“The second problem informing Biden’s approach concerns the moral decay of Western civilisation. When a fish decays, the head rots first. The same can be said for the West. We’ve become so focused on microaggressions in America that we have lost sight of the macroaggressions happening to women around the world.”

The answer is simply that social justice warriors are cowards. They have no stomach whatsoever for taking any real risk with their own prospects and safety, preferring only to hit soft targets – by definition people and institutions which are already civilised (and do not therefore require civilising) and which won’t hit back.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The answer is simply that social justice warriors are cowards.
Oh dear! This is such a breathtaking over-generalisation I cannot believe you thought you could actually get away with it?
The answer is not simple, it is many-faceted and complex.
You do our armed services a grave injustice by implying their ranks contain no social justice warriors. Some soldiers are cannon fodder; more are not. Most believe sincerely in what they are fighting for.
Moral decay has little to do with cowardice. It’s far more insidious than that. Often we see it manifest in stupid, deranged bravery of the berserker type, as in America’s recent attempted coup.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Just for the record there was no attempted coup in the US. And there was absolutely no insurrection. What occurred was a bunch of unarmed (over-enthusiastic) folk who waltzed into the capitol and took selfies of themselves. If anybody equates that with a coup they are out of their minds. Had there been a real insurrection, the whole of Congress (or more specifically all that were there at the time) would have succumbed in a scene reminiscent of the assault on the Bastille at the start of the French Revolution.
Indeed, for the record, despite being held in jail without bail under unreasonable conditions and isolation, nobody so far has been charged with anything more than trespassing!
It is important not to exaggerate events by many orders of magnitude and call them things which they are not. That’s not to say I condone the behavior that day in any way, shape or form, but some degree of perspective and realism is required.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I believe what you say to be factually incorrect. I have read multiple accounts in leading international media citing ample evidence of advance planning and the belief that they were about to take over the capitol.
#Despite what you say, there is factual evidence, including photos and video footage, that the perpetrators were armed with a variety of weapons.
#They clearly were not simply “over-enthusiastic” as you suggest; they can be seen to have been violent, aggressive, threatening and murderous.
#They did not “waltz” into the Capitol; they rammed and smashed and pushed and bashed their way in, killing and maiming as they went.
But I suspect that nothing I say will change your mind, since you state clearly that people who disagree with your view, as I and vast numbers of others do, must be “out of their minds”.
Your apparent exclusive channel to divine omnipotence in the field of knowledge is deeply perturbing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Penelope Lane
Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
2 years ago

This Afghanistan debacle has revealed more than words can say, the sheer redundancy of Western progressive politics. How can they maintain cultural relativism, in the face of the Taliban, who will enslave, mutilate and murder. How can they speak of misogyny, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and racism in the west, yet stay silent on this.
But they will, because this is about gaining power and regime change and not morals. Well we see what happens when progressive graduates get their hands on foreign policy. I don’t like Trump, but he had a withdrawal strategy, this by contrast is a massive intelligence and strategy blunder. Biden won’t last if Americans feel humiliated. Trump for 2024,I’ll put money on it.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Rose

I think you, and the majority of commenters on this page, pass judgement too hastily on the Biden administration. At the moment it all looks shambolic, I agree. But I suspect there are deeper currents at work here, knowledge of which wIll no doubt surface in time via our thankfully free press.
Consider this, as just one possibility: Russia tried in Afghanistan for a couple of decades, then was forced to ignominiously withdraw. So in jumped the US with its western allies to have a go as well. And it is now ignominiously withdrawing
 But wait!—what if the US has deliberately decided to make way for China to do itself in in its turn, bashing its head fruitlessly against an immovable brick wall in the ultimate battle between monster regimes? Why keep defeat selfishly all to ourselves? Maybe the Taliban are the only force evil and regressive enough to take on the Chinese juggernaut? Could they wipe each other out in an orgy of M.A.D.? That would help the world along


Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Seems to me you are really living in a world of make-belief. Incidentally, maybe read a little about the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. It sure wasn’t a disaster like the current withdrawal. It didn’t lead to Kabul being overrun within days by the Taliban. It didn’t result in the use of helicopters over the Russian embassy to evacuate their personnel. In fact, the communist regime in Afghanistan remained in power for about 2 years and was only overthrown eventually by western supported Mujahadin which morphed into Al Quaeda.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Oh dear! Last comment I was supposed to be out of my mind; this time I am living in a world of make-belief (sic). And I have to read a little about something on which I have already read up extensively.
What a strange way to conduct a discussion!
Fact: details of the circumstances of the Russian withdrawal differed, but it is generally acknowledged to have been a disastrous defeat.
You are correct, though, in saying that the West was responsible for helping the Muhajidin to power after that.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Interesting point.

Stuart Y
Stuart Y
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

In your”reality” where does the Taliban meeting with CCP senior officials last month as reported with pictures and everything fit?

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Stuart Y

Yes, that’s interesting. But I’m not sure exactly how much it means, beyond looking good on the international stage for the moment.
it seems almost inevitable that sooner or later a mediaeval tribal theocracy will find itself unable to accommodate the relentless materialism of the Chinese thrust for land and power.

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
2 years ago

What one sees in the media images – piteous cries for help- is very much a minority – often shia, of non-pashtun ancestry- rather the majority of the Afghans who’d rather have Allah’s rule on earth than the infidels’. The western forces were right to withdraw although the manner of the withdrawal was shambolic. Allow asylum for those who assisted the occupying forces and some minorities with careful vetting and draw a line under this fiasco. Western powers have to be very wary of involvement in any islamic hell hole and leave them well alone. The US in particular is totally moronic in choosing its “allies” and will never learn its lesson – its elite lie too much to themselves.
Ms Hirsi is wrong to assume that all Afghan women are victims of a hideous ideology. The majority are probably effective enforcers of the same ideology.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mirax Path
Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

The majority? The majority of Afghan women are “probably effective enforcers” of the ideology that subjugates and brutalizes them? And your bizarre and mostly incomprehensible claim has some basis in reality how?

Mirax Path
Mirax Path
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

It is only a bizarre claim if you are utterly ignorant of Afghani society.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

It’s an incomprehensible claim if it doesn’t make any sense. That’s what I meant by incomprehensible. You could be saying that Afghani women are brutalizing other Afghani women, or that women acquiesce to the brutalization of other women, or that Afghani women brutalize themselves. There’s no way to know what you mean because you haven’t made it clear.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

Sorry, mate, you are the one here who clearly understands nothing of Afghani or Muslim society.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Just because you have nothing to say, it doesn’t mean you’re obligated to say it.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

It doesn’t!

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

I believe the author of this article holds a doctorate. Perhaps respect for women might begin here on this page by acknowledging this fact when addressing or referring to her.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

A credential doesn’t import wisdom.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

It is not a question of only acknowledging a credential if someone is thought to be wise.
The issue is to use a correct, accepted form of address.
Not to do this is to exhibit bad manners, at the least. With highly qualified, professional women, however, men often deliberately avoid using their title because it makes them feel uncomfortable to acknowledge a woman’s experience and seniority.
Why are we not not calling the author Dr Ali? Is “Ms Ali” or “Ms Hirsi” less threatening?
You might like to read up on some of the abuse Dr Jill Biden has been subjected to because she holds a doctorate. And as the holder of a doctorate myself, I can vouch for the fact that it has provided the occasion for ongoing arrogant, abusive putdowns by men throughout my adult life. The worst are the older ones, and thank god a lot of them are dying off now! I find men under 30 by and large are more civilised and secure in themselves. Much nicer!
if you read through my comments here on Dr Ali’s article, you will find a male abuser at work here too, who I have called out. Believe me, the stuff that goes on is truly dreadful. It’s not just Muslims or the Taliban or a New Guinean tribal highland chief.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

I observe our author avoids stating the credential. While holding a credential suggests domain knowledge affirmed in this article and suggests solid opinion, the opinions of others can be valid as well. It’s not demeaning to offer another opinion, as we are doing here. I suppose I bypass the snide insults contained in these postings – common in all discussions. I am quite aware of Jill Biden’s credentials in her field where she should always be respected but those credentials mean nothing outside of the field. The Dr prefix is normally only for medical people in social discourse outside their academic area. This is not the academy but a public space where a credential is of less import. But I am much less easily offended by others.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

I observe our author avoids stating the credential.
The correct convention is for the author to give first and last names, then cite qualifications, memberships, etc. after that. It is for respondents to use the title as the correct respectful form of address.
One does not use the title of oneself, since that would constitute an unseemly public display of self-promotion. One is humble about oneself, respectful to the other. That is good manners.

the opinions of others can be valid as well.
Well of course! Exchange of views is what a discussion is supposed to enable.
You are confusing correct use of titles with the actual worth of a contribution to a discussion. These are quite separate things.
You don’t call someone “Mrs” if they are actually “Miss”. And you use “Ms” if that is what the woman prefers. That is accepted usage today. Similarly, you use “Rev” if someone is a minister of religion, and you use “Dr” if either they hold a PhD or they are a medico. Strictly speaking, most medical doctors are not really doctors, since they hold only a first degree. A few have an MD, but not many.
On the other hand, if you go against accepted good manners and deny a woman her title, that is behaving like a pignoramus.
I am quite aware of Jill Biden’s credentials in her field where she should always be respected but those credentials mean nothing outside of the field.
You are wrong about correct forms of address being restricted to academia. They apply in all circumstances where titles are used. Dr Jill Biden is always that, never “Mrs Biden” or “Ms Biden” or “Mrs President”
 Once again, you are confusing correct, courteous forms of address with questions of a person’s field of expertise.
There’s a tendency today to try to make first names universal, in government correspondence as well as in more informal settings. The argument for this is that it puts people on a more equal footing, and hence socially more at ease. I dislike the habit, since once again, it tends to be misused by men who need to put women down.
I suppose I bypass the snide insults

You can choose to do that for yourself. I follow the maxim, “When good people do nothing, evil arises”. So I call these things out and try to inform and educate.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

So you are happy, Dr. Lane, that those with whom you disagree are dying off.
This is, quite simply, pathetic on your part.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Cox

Don’t misquote me, please. I am happy that misogynistic old men are dying off. That’s all. The ones who as bosses and paternalistic authority figures have made my working and private life a misery for decades.
There are plenty of men with whom I disagree, of all ages. They coexist happily with me and enjoy my company, as I theirs. I like men as a sex. I simply have no time for the failed males who can’t seem to live without taking women down.
What is this vindictive nastiness that seems to be trolling every comment I try to make? Sorry, but I am not pathetic, and you had no right to say such a thing. It is personal abuse and is not acceptable. It contravenes Unherd’s guidelines for conducting a civilised, courteous discussion.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

Three cheers for a tepid appeal to authority.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mikey Mike
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

Ms Hirsi is wrong to assume that all Afghan women are victims of a hideous ideology. The majority are probably effective enforcers of the same ideology.
It is not just well known, but basic to understanding of this issue, that victims as often as not end up enforcing the subjugation they have been taught. This applies widely—to victims of childhood sexual abuse, as much as to female elders in primitive patriarchal tribal societies, particularly but not exclusively in Islamic Africa.
I suggest you read some of the author’s books. You will discover that she has a great deal to teach you on this subject.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

The majority are probably effective enforcers of the same ideology.

any references for this? Genuinely interested. And ms Ali will not be ignorant of this possibility – she describes it in one of her own books.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

Sad partial truth. Many Afghan seniors desire Sharia where bribery is a crime as a solution to endemic corruption of the Afghan military and police. There are few middle-aged Afghans and the young are ignorant of the Taliban, but are likely to discover that their new life will be quite different returning to the 14th century.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

I have noticed that the apparently steadily increasing number of Muslim women in the UK (specifically Brighton), while free to rip off their headscarves and sack-like outer garments, and disappear into rather than stand out in the crowd (the original reason for the Prophet Mohammed’s dress code for his wives), choose not to do so. If Islam with its associated tribal/village culture has any defining characteristic, it is its power of adhesion.

Josh Cook
Josh Cook
2 years ago

It’s about time the US did some nation building at home.

After 20 years and thousands of dead servicemen- America owes Afghanistan nothing.

Last edited 2 years ago by Josh Cook
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Josh Cook

Yes, let us look forward to the day when USA elites begin to consider the well-being of the American public again. To stop putting the country’s men & women through meat grinding wars unnecessarily. To manage immigration so as not to make it hard for ordinary Americans to have to compete with cheap foreign labor that pours over the border on a daily basis – which depresses wages and makes housing expensive and to protect the USA citizens from the same unvaccinated illegal populations. To stop berating USA citizens as being ‘racists’ at every turn they take. Never has an electorate been so beaten down by its elite as are USA citizens today.

Bob Rowlands
Bob Rowlands
2 years ago

“In today’s perverse American culture, however, more attention is devoted to the use of preferred gender pronouns than to the plight of women whose most basic rights — to education, personal autonomy, the right to be present in a public space — are either removed or under serious threat.” Exactly!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

I admire the writings of this author, but I’m not convinced that America pulling out of the Middle East, leads to an increased likelihood of terror attacks in the US.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

One can only agree. Like Saigon, empires that retreat tend to shamefully disregard their allies.

Still, I’d like to hear from Ms Ali whether the thinks this enterprise ever had a chance of success, and if so how we should have got there. As things are now, it looks very much like the non-Taliban Afghan government was like a balloon full of holes, depending on a continuous inflow of american billions to hold itself up. One of the criteria for a just war was that it had a reasonable chance of success. In hindsight I am not sure if the Afghan adventure ever qualified.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That the former VP of Afghanistan along with a number of the army remains fighting, alone, in some areas suggests they all haven’t surrendered. Afghanistan has never been a nation state but more lines on a map with the Pashtun south really a part of Pakistan by all logic. It will soon revert back to a collection of tribes with the North holding sway in those rugged mountains over the Taliban. The US error was in thinking a central government could be like our model. Had we supported allied tribes to maintain their independence perhaps the Taliban could hold only in the South. We could have saved a lot of that money that now sits in Swiss accounts.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

I think there’s something in this. The US seems to have ignored the ‘divide and rule’ principle followed by successful empires throughout history.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

The young mix of Afghanis, men and women protesting outside the White House, the ladies in T-shirts, with the light of the sun on their bare arms, strength in their voice, hair loose 
 was a brief picture of the chasm in culture between young and bright Afghanis resident in the West and their contemporaries in Afghanistan. The young women interviewed briefly for TV seemed bright, educated, certainly articulate and not poor (notwithstanding the possibility their having been refugees or immigrants at some stage). Perhaps it would benefit our understanding were these individuals interviewed for longer: if only to give ourselves as members of Western civilisation a pat on the back. These young Afghanis, I imagine, probably declare themselves proud Americans! The last of their kind in Kabul are in the autonomous zone of Kabul airport. But after twenty years of American support and know-how, altogether they represent only a tiny fraction of all Afghanis, sixty per cent of whom are under the age of 25. And so even in the West, and not necessarily the poorer you go, young Muslim women must dress extremely conservatively. Some do so faithfully and are committed to doing so. Their choice, they would say.
A failure of imagination for sure on the part of America has been behind this calamity of a retreat from Kabul. But what about what is moral? Biden said in his inauguration speech in January that America should become a “force for good in the world”. Was that all just hot air? The Democrats had shown the previous year that they could not be a force for good for ordinary Americans, let alone the world: the countless Americans who were concerned about the drawn-out violence and looting and disorder in their cities. Was this cavalier attitude and trivialisation of danger what led to the Biden Administration’s washing their hands of the Afghanis who still trusted America and its remaining 2,500 troops? (That small force had been in place for already over a year). The Taliban are now dancing to a different tune (in their colourful frocks and gowns, their womenfolk in dreadful uniform black-tie). You can see it instantly. In the tech age, the Taliban wants international influence, and wants to be at the vanguard of an Islamist revival, worldwide. It’s branching out. They now have a notion about themselves. If Afghans leave their nation in droves, they’ll be, understandably, fleeing the Taliban. The Taliban won’t mind that, however. Just as various entities and so forth in Syria and Iraq did not mind seeing Kurds and Yazidis leave the region in their droves. It really ought to be a disaster for the Islamic world, but apparently not. So all the more reason why it is hoped that the young Afghanis protesting outside the White House are held up as representatives of the success of the American and the West’s imagination. More than a hundred years ago, immigrants to the New World, many Jewish, found in America that they could indulge their artistic imagination. THEY were poor! And many became household names. They were not constrained by their religious outlook. This all added up to a bolstering of freedom. And that was before antibiotics were discovered. But income inequality is huge in the world of Islam today. Failures of imagination must not be entertained all round.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Quite well said and thoughtful. “Was that all just hot air?” – Indeed, written on the Teleprompter by those who create poll tested crowd sourced political tomfoolery. Kudus to believers who are incapable of critical thinking.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago

There are loads of very religiously conservative Afghans in the Uk and their womenfolk toe the line .
Economic migrants tend to call themselves refugees when they enter the UK because only as refugees can they be granted the right to remain officially , though hardly anyone gets repatriated .
The Manchester bomber brothers came here as children of religious refugees fleeing the Libya of Gaddafi .
Most migrants from Muslim countries to the UK do NOT embrace individualist secular values and feminism . Very definitely the reverse .
Perhaps it’s different in the US ?
I feel the equation with Jewish migrants to the US or Britain in the late 19th century (mainly from the Russia and Poland ) is a terrible red herring .

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
2 years ago

No imagination, no creativity; this passes through my mind every day in relation to national and international politics and campaigning. We are all suffering because of it.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

‘couldn’t agree more. This especially rang true with Biden’s recent utterances; He described his choice as binary, either/or…he displayed so little imagination and no creativity. Others have pointed this out as well, Romney, Gates, etc

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

Ayan you are a brave and beautiful soul, this article makes me want to cry and break things in rage, all at the same time

Peter Easton
Peter Easton
2 years ago

Thought provoking piece.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Easton
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

The Western Feminist movement is dead and has been for some time. That said, it was always a movement that primarily looked after the interests of upper class white women – from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Virginia Woolf and her ilk, to Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan – the whole lot of them. During the 1980’s, it particularly became ‘corporatized’ when the money flowed into Planned Parenthood and N.O.W. Much like the ‘skin’ diversity industry today, positions in these organizations became professionalized and entrenched, universes unto themselves. Why anyone would call themselves a ‘feminist’ today is beyond me. And that many men do, is absolutely hilarious.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I call myself a feminist because I believe in, and work for, equality between men and women.
And I am grateful to every man who calls himself a feminist.
Please don’t dismiss an entire movement and the progress of generations because you don’t like some of those on the extremes.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago

It seems only a commitment for next next 50 years, perhaps, could have been an alternative to this current crisis. The West has lost the confidence for nation building. Crisis after crisis makes that seem reasonable. However, into the vacuum rushes the alternative, also known as reality.
A lot of wokeism is wishful thinking from a privileged and protected position. The success of this withdrawal will correlate with the success of the woke in covering up the extent of the crisis and hiding from the reality of how terrible humanity can be.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

It is not the responsibility or right of the US to go round imposing its values on other societies.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Correct. Except the US largess restored Europe, Japan and Korea. But in those cases we avoided telling them how to govern. In days past, the US muddled but didn’t attempt to micro-manage.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

But then they did not fight to keep the Westernized government – even though it would have meant more money flowing in, and life easier – but they essentially voted with their surrender to return to the traditional ways instead of fighting for the life we established for them.

But then Afghani are not like Westerners, very Tribal allegiances, which means each group is too small and unable to resist the Taliban individually – and each group likely doubting the resolution of the other parts of – what I hear is a very poor Army – to hold. It would be stand together, or all surely die – and no one probably really trusts the others to stand…. or their officers and political leaders.

I am somewhat optimistic though, I remember 1979, and next door in Iran Khomeini took over and the Shah was displaced, and tens of thousands of sympathizers of the old regime were slaughtered without any sort of real trial – French Revolution-esk. But Khomeini had a strong tie with his mother and sisters, and kept the women’s freedoms to drive cars, keep their jobs, continue University, and just a tightening back into the Chador sort of thing, not a really terrible time for women as was feared..

Maybe the Taliban will be better than we think, they have had 20 years of cell phones, internet even, moving about and seeing more of the world – the leaders are older and maybe wiser, and more worldly. They do know the world is watching, and that even China will be judging them by how they lead the country. No one wants to invest in a country which has an unpopular government. Let us hope.

But let me tell of the Bura, as few Westerners know what it means, how the Burqa, which goes from ground to over the top of the head, and only a thick net grill to see out of, even the eyes cannot be seen – yet it can be thought as almost a freedom really. Because it is the only thing which traditionally allowed women to go outside. (Under the King in the main cities things loosened, and under the Russians, and under the Americans, but 20 years ago under the Taliban got bad again)

There was a saying ‘She was so virtuous she did not even own a Burqa’. This means she never left her fathers house till married, was transported to her Mother in laws house in a sort of tent, and never left that house till last in her burial shroud. The Afghani ideal is women stay in the house, mostly without even windows facing outside, and only leave when necessary. Naturally this means most do go out, but not a lot – and wear the burqa, and must be with a male relative.

Naturally the rural ones worked the farms, and the urban ones would go out often as they could – but totally covered in Islam’s most extreme shroud, the Burqa, back in the old days – Today on line I saw pictures of the girls walking in chadors (cover head, hair, arms, torso, but open in the front, and not covering the face.) I found that very cheering – but too early to know, like a canary in the mine how the Kabul women are covered this week will likely tell us a great deal of what to expect of the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

“Maybe the Taliban will be better than we think, they have had 20 years of cell phones, internet even, moving about and seeing more of the world – the leaders are older and maybe wiser, and more worldly. They do know the world is watching, and that even China will be judging them by how they lead the country. No one wants to invest in a country which has an unpopular government. Let us hope”
One of the things that has received little comment in the media is where the Taliban leadership has been hiding out for the last 20 years, who has been offering them shelter, guiding and influencing them (and possibly arming them). I suspect it has received little comment because the Taliban’s benefactors also happen to be friends of the West. 
There has been much talk today about the “new” Taliban possibly being just a little bit more enlightened than of old – maybe letting women have a very limited, token role in society and imposing a dress code that might just allow a few square inches of the face to be shown rather than the full burqa. Welcome to the new Emirate! Islamism lite, just like our friends in Qatar. I foresee a time when the West (or more likely China) will be heavily investing in the country – it may not have oil, but it has an untapped supply of copper and other mineral deposits that will be needed to fuel our battery driven green revolution. I can imagine their national airline being a major sponsor / advertiser on our news channels and maybe sponsoring some Premier League football clubs. Maybe even hosting the World Cup, in stadiums built with slave labour. And the West will lap it all up without question, just as it does with our current friends in the middle east. And for the women of Afghanistan, life will be hell.
I know this all sounds cynical and pessimistic. But we in the West have so lost touch with our values that we are prepared to accept and do business with some incredibly nasty regimes (even to the extent that criticism of such regimes will be called a phobia) and I can’t see it being any different with the new Afghanistan.

AL Tinkcombe
AL Tinkcombe
2 years ago

The headline on this piece is obnoxious. Whether it accurately reflects the piece I don’t know. In the past I’ve found articles by Ayaan Hirsi Ali insightful and interesting, but time and temper are too short to make worthwhile the risk of having to swallow more of this nonsense. Its claim belies the efforts of American citizens, many of them veterans, to bring the Afghans they worked with, and their families, to a safe haven; it belies the work of members of Congress to pressure the Biden administration to live up to its promises to Afghans; it ignores the actions of the US military flight crew that on their own initiative flew a transport full of Afghans out of Karzai airport Monday night. It also ignores the undeniable fact that the story isn’t over yet. The withdrawal was badly handled, but withdrawal at some point was necessary even without Trump’s rather weaselly deal. To assume that the US government could have guaranteed in perpetuity the freedoms of Afghans in general and Afghan women in particular is to assume the impossible. So lose the cheap moralizing that invariably attaches to the words “America” and “American.” As for the claim that “Americans” have lined up for pronoun correctness, [expletives deleted]. Pronoun people, as I call them, resemble the Taliban in many ways. They move fast, they’re fanatical, they’re ruthless in suppressing those who disagree with them, and they watch authority crumble before them. But they, like the Taliban, represent only a segment of the population, many of whom are heartsick at what has happened.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago
Reply to  AL Tinkcombe

Trump’s deal was hardly ‘weaselly’ – it was seriously considered and no rushed judgement. Biden’s actions have been anything but. Biden also used over 4 dozen Executive Orders during his first month is office to negate Trump actions, but Biden declined to negate Trump’s Taliban deal – seems like this one is on Joe entirely.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

The Trump deal died when the Taliban refused continued negotiation, an overlooked fact.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago

Not Americans, some very stupid Americans care about pronouns. I didn’t vote for the idiot Biden.

Jonathan A Gallant
Jonathan A Gallant
2 years ago

I understand Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s bitter tears for the women and girls of Afghanistan. However, the US went into Afghanistan in 2002 to counter Al Qaeda attacks on the US, and not for the purpose of dismantling Sharia Law. The US has no responsibility to reconstruct the entire culture of other countries which are burdened by a history of medieval fanaticism. The half-assed attempt to do so, beginning under President George W. Bush, was a classic example of mission creep, with all of its defects and contradictions. The Biden administration could perhaps have ended that failed project more deftly, but it had to end eventually.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago

Give them a break! Westerners, that includes Russians relative to Afghanistan’s longitude, have been at it for 40 years. No, longer, don’t forget the British in 1842 when just one soldier was allowed to escape to tell the tale – pour encourager les autres or whatever that is translated into the local language – and again in 1878. Why was Afghanistan chosen by bin Laden as a bolthole? Because it is so remote from anywhere important. That’s why he was eventually found not in Afghanistan but in Pakistan. If the US and UK can blame themselves for anything it is for in effect creating al Qaeda and IS and the Taliban and supplying them with cast-off Kalashnikovs, Humvees and probably all manner of communications equipment, maybe even an in-depth course in military insurgency tactics and weasel-word diplomacy. If life was wretched before, and women systematically oppressed, we may have succeeded only in making it worse and more entrenched than ever, because as well as reinforcing the self-satisfaction of patriarchal thugs it serves as a statement of defiance against the infidel invader. Maybe the Taliban will moderate. After all they have to eat, so someone has to sow, reap and gather into barns. Yes, we should honour our commitment to those seduced by our promises, and take in refugees, and we should arm ourselves morally against the poison of Islamic totalitarianism, and our own frivolity, but as Einstein did not say, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of madness.

Last edited 2 years ago by Nicholas Taylor
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

I am always amused when, in the wake of something like this – Iraq, Northern Ireland, wherever – someone always pipes up to say “there is no military solution” to so-and-so.
It’s not really true, is it? The Taliban has clearly found a military solution. What “there is no military solution” usually means is “there is no military solution we can live with, because we’re going to get defeated”.
It’s a pity this is so rarely thought about upfront.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

It’s possible to want to move to the west because of its wealth , while at the same time hating its values .
Those people may live in the UK , even be born here , while calling somewhere else home

Christina Dalcher
Christina Dalcher
2 years ago

Deleted

Last edited 2 years ago by Christina Dalcher
David Zersen
David Zersen
2 years ago

Powerful emotions in this article. I’m in agreement with most of them. I do not however support the belief that the only way to challenge patriarchal dominance and minority suppression is to continue to kill people. The U.S. claimed it declared war on Afghanistan because it was harboring Islamic extremists who posed a threat to U.S. security. After that theory proved weak, the U.S. claimed that it continued the fight for 20 years to defend human rights. But after 47,000 civilians were killed as collateral damage and 60,000 Afghan soldiers were killed (and only 2300 U.S. military) it became clear that both goals were misguided. This article that insists that U.S departure is “heartless betrayal” lacks a creative solution to problems that exist not just in Afghanistan, but around the world. I suggest the author reconsider her insistence that the U.S. military solutions were useful and that she work within some of the groups with which she’s involved to offer meaningful international corrections to troubling social and economic problems.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Zersen
Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

How about the women in any Muslim country? The writer is very myopic.

Last edited 2 years ago by Chris Eaton
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

I have loads of respect for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but all the commentators attacking the US, Biden, Trump or whoever don’t seem to be able to address some obvious points:

There aren’t a group of ‘goodies’ (the side we support, just like Saudi Arabia?) and ‘baddies’ the Taliban.

Afghanistan has almost never functioned as a unitary state, it is a very traditional tribal society where tribal codes and Islam have much greater esteem than a bunch of often corrupt politicians, especially when the latter were effectively imposed by outsiders. The Afghan ‘government’ was composed of various warlords and powerful men and hardly a bastion of liberal values, though of course ‘talking the talk’ is easy when you get paid billions for so doing.

The Taliban movement, which is itself disparate and divided, had the obvious advantage that they were seeming to fight foreign occupation (or their perceived lackeys), the one thing the Afghans have always been able to unite over.

All the usual points about the West having no coherent strategy, a recipe for endless intervention.

The Afghan Army, on which vast amounts were spent and fighting capacity supposedly built, did indeed collapse like a pack of cards at its first real test. All the commentary appears to take its ultimate defeat as inevitable, only the speed at which it did is in question. Surely such a trained Army with majority social support should have been able to rout the rag tag Taliban fighters years ago? Doesn’t this rather throw into question the assumption that most Afghans supported their now former government?

ed martin
ed martin
2 years ago

good article – but what can be done?
aren’t there two quite separate and conflicting views of civilisation here?
we weren’t able to negotiate with either of the socialisms (right or left) in the 20th century, both were intolerant beliefs hiding murder behind a moral masquerade.
in UK we couldn’t handle warring fundamentalist religious extremism in ireland.
what’s the difference with islamic shin pane?
like the plague – do we have to learn to live with it and a higher incidence of mortality?

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

Cool? Calculated? Incompetent – I’ll give you that one.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago

Ms. Ali’s article is correct. Our current administration lacks the backbone to do anything to help women. Somehow those who support women need to speak up and put pressure on those in a position to make a difference.

Robert Pound
Robert Pound
2 years ago

“American culture today tells us not to be proud of our country; not to believe in the superiority of American values; not to promote the rights we are afforded by our Constitution so that they can be enjoyed by people around the world.”
What an insufferable jingoist Ms Ali has become. If she believes America is so superior, I hope she has renounced her Dutch citizenship; keeping it would in any case be hypocritical given that those acquiring US nationality are supposed to renounce all foreign potentates. And what is this by trying to impose the US Constitution on the rest of the world? What if we don’t want a free-for-all in private firearms ownership in our countries?

Last edited 2 years ago by Robert Pound
Robin Bury
Robin Bury
2 years ago

Ghastly article. US brought into a deeply corrupt country by Bush. The vast expenditure to train an Afghan army over 20 years a disaster. This is a country that is drug sales driven and primitive. Biden 100% right to get out Now he will help Afghan emigrants who flee. Good on him. And to compare US to collapse of Rome is risible.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

The plight of Afghan women can arouse emotion but the plight of the US world reputation is of even greater concern. The advice of May 4 (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/04/opinion/biden-afghanistan-withdrawal.html) quite ignored. US public opinion shaded by the press was to end the forever war which, in fact, had ended years earlier with a residual stabilising force. That force was not expensive but propped up a feckless Afghan military who were slowly losing. That we departed so callously will be a forever stain. Will the world forgive us?

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

Death of diversity, death of pluralism
 death of multiculturalism within the nation.
Death of minority sexual rights, death of minority economic, social and political rights, death of minority cultural and religious rights
 death of minority human rights within the nation.
But there is a death which surpasses all of these
 death of woman —DEATH OF A MAJORITY OF HUMAN BEINGS WITHIN THE NATION.
I weep with Ali, for we both know that death of woman transcends in horror all those other deaths.
It’s not just death of physical bodies. It’s death of an entire future of possibilities of positive human evolution for our species.
So I say this to all men—not just the Taliban, but even the most kindly and progressive and loving of our men—
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago

Do you prefer the women to live in a country at war, or in a country in peace? Islam will be islam, so stop crying over spoilt milk. 42 years of war have come to an end, and only because of TDR and the irrepressible need for virtue signalling by Senile Joe and circus of madmen/women/x, the retreat is shambolic and will cost people’s lives. Hurrah for the Taliban that kicked out the American biggots. In three years time they will do business again.

Last edited 2 years ago by Francisco Menezes