By Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam
December 25, 2012
As the withdrawal date of the NATO forces in Afghanistan comes closer with two more years to go, the US is making all efforts to ensure that they leave a government behind which is faithful to them. For this purpose they have made certain concessions and gestures to bring Taliban closer to them. Recently, the US Marine has had his rank reduced and been fined $500 fine for urinating on corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan after pleading guilty at a special court martial in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It was to provide some solace to the Taliban that the US takes care of their sentiments.
Earlier, Obama administration got FBI to have deleted all of its materials that taught there was an Islamic connection to terrorism, after a review of the training material that covered documents that dated back to Sept 11, 2001, around the time the US led NATO forces occupied Afghanistan. These documents were used in training courses for new agents. A large number of documents had misleading information about Muslims and used stereotypes of the Muslims. For example, they called the Prophet Muhammad a "cult leader," claimed "devout" Muslims have been generally violent for hundreds of years and made other controversial statements.
Earlier the Pentagon refused to give assurances that soldiers who burned the Quran would not be turned over to Afghan authorities to face trial. Its spokesman had refused to give any commitment to the media that the soldiers violating human rights like urinating on Taliban corpses or burning the Quran will not be tried in an Afghan court.
This softening of the stand of the US administration towards the Taliban who they have been fighting for the last ten years has been made with an eye on the 2014 withdrawal of the NATO from Afghanistan and has been doing everything they could to befriend them or at least lessen the tensions with them. Recently, a meeting of all the Afghan parties--- the representative of the Afghanistan government, the Taliban and other political and militant outfits of Afghanistan was held in which reportedly the main effort was to make Taliban agree to shun their jihad and join the political mainstream by fighting the elections of 2014 as a political party. The meeting was organized by a think tank in France, a member of NATO and a major provider of troops to the NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Though the Taliban have not made any commitment, it is seen as a part of the strategy of the US to bring the Taliban to the political mainstream and that’s why it is making all the efforts to lessen the bitterness between them. Because the US believes that once it leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban may assume power at the centre or at least become a major player in the country. So, if the power goes out of hand of Karzai and the Taliban comes to power, they will wield a hard blow on their political interests in the region. That’s why the US wants to minimize the bitterness with them by taking all the measures at their disposal.
The current move on the part of the US is the proposed draft of the training manual of the US army asking its soldiers in Afghanistan to avoid talking certain topics like paedophilia, homosexuality and women’s rights.
Citing the reasons for these restrictions, the 75 page handbook says:
"Many of the confrontations occur because of coalition’s ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the Afghan security force members."
The draft handbook offers a list of "taboo conversation topics" that soldiers should avoid, including "making derogatory comments about the Taliban," "advocating women's rights," "any criticism of paedophilia," "directing any criticism toward Afghans," "mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct" or "anything related to Islam," according to the Journal.
This is seen as an acceptance of paedophilia or sodomy as part of the Afghan or Muslim cultural norms the criticism of which may invite the ire of the Taliban and of the Afghan forces with whom the NATO forces fight. The Obama administration is under criticism for this change in policy which the anti-Islam section in the US think is a compromise made by the US administration on its policy on human rights.
The reference of paedophilia and sodomy as ‘Afghan or Muslim cultural norms’ in the handbook has provided the detractors of Islam in the US with ammunition to criticize the hypocrisy of the Muslims especially in Afghanistan where paedophilia is rampant particularly among Pashtuns who reportedly say, "Women are for children, boys are for pleasure."
It is said that Mullah Umar and Taliban’s claim to fame is their rescuing a boy for whom two militia commanders had fought and killed civilians in the process.
This decision of the US army is based on a report of the Second Marine Battalion in Afghanistan on the sexual behaviour of the Afghans, particularly of the Pashtuns. The report says:
"Kandahar's Pashtuns have been notorious for their homosexuality for centuries, particularly their fondness for naive young boys. Before the Taliban arrived in 1994, the streets were filled with teenagers and their sugar daddies, flaunting their relationship. It is called the homosexual capital of South Asia. Such is the Pashtun obsession with sodomy - locals tell you that birds fly over the city using only one wing, the other covering their posterior - that the rape of young boys by warlords was one of the key factors in Mullah Omar mobilizing the Taliban".
That’s why critics say that by asking its soldiers not talk about paedophilia, the US has admitted that it is a dominant part of the Afghanistan’s Muslim culture. Therefore, by asking the soldiers to avoid talking about paedophilia and women’s rights, the US has surrendered to the violators of human rights.
Marine General John Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan has criticized the contents while Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has also expressed his disapproval.
Perennial Islam-basher Robert Spencer has criticized this move saying: “The ban on criticizing paedophilia has put the military in a difficult position. By attempting to show cultural sensitivity, it is forced to acknowledge that paedophilia is an inherent part of Islamic teaching.”
Clare Lopez, a senior fellow with the Clarion Fund, said: “it’s another step in a process of submission to the appeasement of Islam that the United States leadership including military leadership has been pursuing for quite a while," she said. "The entire program seems to be geared to appeasing the Taliban and jihadists by giving in to their world view which says Islam should not be offended and letting them decide what is offensive."
But the US army officials have found in a study that the insensitivity of the soldiers towards their cultural and social weaknesses and their derogatory remarks against the Taliban and their cultural and social life were the cause of the ever increasing insider attacks that have killed as many as 63 coalition soldiers. Though the coalition soldiers and Afghan forces work together, they have an inherent disdain for each other which is intensified with the coalition soldiers’ derogatory remarks against the violation of human rights by Afghan men and their sexual orientation.
The US has woken up to this moral and cultural insensitivity of its soldiers at the fag end of their occupation of Afghanistan. The training material that promoted this insensitivity and racial hatred between the two parties existed there since 2001. What fruits such delayed redressal by the Obama administration will bear only time will tell.
Arshad is a regular columnist for New AgeIslam.com.
Sohail Arshad is a regular columnist for New AgeIslam.com.