Who did not expect the United States government to deny ignoring the rampant rape of boys by our Afghan allies? Once Fox News and the New York Times reported the story of a soldier being discharged for protecting a boy from a rapist, there could be no other response. The U.S. government would not admit to doing that. They would rather do this:
The Pentagon denied on Monday that the U.S. military has a policy directing forces to ignore the sexual abuse of minors by Afghan officials, after a newspaper reported that troops were told to look the other way in order to maintain good ties with Afghan allies.
[…] “I can tell you we’ve never had a policy in place that directs any military member or any government personnel overseas to ignore human rights abuses,” said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. “The practices described in that article, we find absolutely abhorrent.”
“There’s nothing that would preclude any military member from making reports about human rights violations to their chain of command,” he added.
Except that is not true. The government altered the Army field manual to include prohibitions on criticizing Afghan cultural practices such as the systematic rape of boys:
The draft leaked to the newspaper 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 pedophilia,” “directing any criticism towards Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam.”
There is also the unfortunate fact that several soldiers reported that their superiors told them not to interfere. This is not one soldier, but dozens. There is also the unfortunate fact that the rapes continue to occur despite the military knowing about them.
There is also this:
The American military’s defense of the policy is laughable. In an email, the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, argued that allegations of child abuse committed by members of the Afghan military or police “would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.” But the track record for Afghanistan bringing sexual predators to justice isn’t encouraging. In 2010, two Marine officers persuaded the Afghan authorities to arrest a police commander after a litany of abuses, including corruption, support for the Taliban and child abduction. But just two years later, he was back with a different unit in Helmand Province.
Colonel Tribus also said there was “no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan” report abuses except when rape is being used as a weapon of war. He’s wrong on several counts, legal experts say. Sexual abuse would appear to violate the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit violence, cruel treatment and “outrages upon personal dignity” against people taken into custody. International human rights law outlaws rape.
While the latter is technically true, one would have a hard time finding it applied to instances of sexual abuse against men and boys.
The unfortunate reality is that the U.S. military is fully aware of what goes on and does nothing to prevent it because it wants the military support the rapists provide.
From a militaristic perspective, one can almost rationalize this. The Taliban and their allies prove dangerous and must be removed. If this means supporting other bad actors, as long as those acts remain localized, it may be prudent to work with these people. The Taliban represents a far greater problem.
However, we have already seen how that plays out. The Taliban was once the lesser of two evils. We worked with their proto version to remove the Russians from Afghanistan. That empowered those proto Taliban forces and led to them taking control of vast areas of the country once Russia and the United States left. There is no reason to think the same thing would not occur in this case.
Yet from a more rational militaristic perspective, this is insane. Some of the boys raped by these men will eventually become power players. Those boys will remember how U.S. forces sided with their rapists and turned a blind eye to their violence. That grudge will not go anywhere, and it will be much harder to win them over should we need their help or want to work with them.
More so, it shows the United States to be hypocritical. How can a country claim to support a higher level of morality while openly admitting it does not have a moral responsibility to stop child rape?