Updated: Aug 20, 2021
America cares more about pronouns than the fate of Afghan women
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her new book is Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights.
“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.
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