On Friday, the New York Times published a story about a remarkable Afghan woman whose life’s work is addiction-treatment and women’s rights in Afghanistan. And she’s dead set against the Afghan government making peace with the Taliban. Nor is she alone. Many Afghan women are petrified about what comes after such a peace deal and its concomitant withdrawal of American troops. But Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten “the future is female” Gillibrand don’t seem so concerned.
In Kabul, Laila Haidari, 39, runs a salon-like café where men and women mix freely and talk openly. She uses the profits from this risky venture to fund her own drug-rehabilitation clinic. This puts her in the literal crosshairs of religious extremists (including the Taliban) and Afghan drug dealers. When two men broke into her apartment one night, she fired her shotgun at them, and they fled.
Haidari was married off to a mullah at 12 and bore him the first of three children at age 13. “Back then I didn’t know that child marriage was something unjust,” she says, “even though I had this feeling I was being raped every night by a full-grown man, and that was wrong.”
She knows now. And, not surprisingly, she seems to have a clearer understanding of the Taliban than do many American policymakers: “We are face to face with an ideology, not a group of people,” she said. “They believe that women are defined as the second gender and you can’t change that ideology, so I have no hope for Taliban talks.” She hopes to “find 50 other women who will stand up and say, ‘We don’t want peace.”
There are undoubtedly many more than 50 out there. That’s to say nothing of the high-profile Afghan women who share Haidari’s outrage. Rahima Jami and Shukria Paykan, both female members of the Afghan Parliament, are also scared of ending the fight against the Taliban. So is Robina Hamdard, of the Afghan Women’s Network.
Protecting women has been a big part of the American effort in Afghanistan. We’ve spent more than $1.5 billion on it since 2001, opening girls’ schools, securing the place of women in Afghan politics, and setting up various projects to keep the issue at the forefront of Afghan development. That’s to say nothing of the fact that fighting the Taliban means checking its brutal Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
All this raises a question: Why did so many Democrats who’ve declared themselves as 2020 presidential candidates refuse to oppose President Trump’s terrible plan to make peace with the Taliban and withdraw U.S. forces? Earlier this month, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand voted against a bill that condemned Trump’s plan.
In Afghanistan, an empowered Taliban and the absence of American troops would mean a future that’s decidedly not female. We know Trump’s thinking on this. He doesn’t believe that protecting women from a hellish life under the Taliban is worth American military action. But all these feminist Democrats? If they explicitly agree with the president on that point, they should be made to say so.