Magnanimity In Defeat: Time To Pay The Taliban,

James Jeffrey, freelance journalist

The Biden administration has announced that it will invoke emergency powers to deal with $7 billion of currently frozen assets held by the Afghan central bank in New York. The aim is for $3.5 billion to go toward humanitarian relief in Afghanistan; the remaining assets will stay in American hands with a view to being accessed by relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks.

As a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s been hard to tolerate the political and military general class that bears so much responsibility for the disasters that unfolded in those countries. President Biden’s confusing move regarding the $7 billion of assets appears right up there with all the other cack-handed handling of and disregard for Afghans. […]

For right or wrong, throughout history, a country’s menfolk have usually proved defensive of their women in relation to outside interference. As recounted by the writer Jan Morris in Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress, the first volume of her incomparable trilogy about the British Empire, a factor in the breakout of the first Anglo-Afghan War in 1839 was the “free and easy behaviour” of British officers with local Afghan women that “made many secret enemies” in Kabul. That war ended infamously with the whole British force wiped out bar one survivor to tell the terrible tale. Us Brits have now fought in four wars in Afghanistan—we have either lost them or managed a vague stalemate that soon unraveled. At least you in the U.S. have only lost one—though perhaps you also vicariously lost the one the Russians lost, since so much sown in that war came back to haunt you, your military partners, and everyone else.

Maybe it’s time to notice the trends in all this? It could be distilled to the following maxim: Don’t piss around with the Afghans—take them seriously. And don’t ride roughshod over their culture, as backward and malevolent as it may appear. Also, international calls for respecting female rights appear rather moot when Afghans of both sexes are starving and likely to die. Let’s prevent that and sort out that crisis, and then consider the great rights conundrum, which we should deal with in a way that might actually be heeded by the Taliban and hence prove effective. We must never again underestimate just how complicated Afghanistan and its people are. Läs artikel