Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that the $5 billion in aid poured into Afghanistan by the U.S. Agency for International Development since 2006 has been wasted, and that it is  “heartbreaking.”

But it’s not just our treasure that has been wasted in Afghanistan, but also the blood of our sons and daughters who fought and died to give the Afghans democracy, “G-d’s gift to humanity,” as George W. Bush often put it – for instance, when moderator Bob Schieffer asked “What part does faith play in policy decisions?” in the final debate between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in October 2004:

I believe that God wants everybody to be free. … And that’s been a part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty. And I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to see freedom on the march.

Well, The Guardian reports that freedom is now on the retreat for half the population of Afghanistan:

Hamid Karzai has been accused of trying to win votes in Afghanistan’s presidential election by backing a law the UN says legalises rape within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands’ permission.

The Afghan president signed the law earlier this month, despite condemnation by human rights activists and some MPs that it flouts the constitution’s equal rights provisions. …

Senator Humaira Namati, a member of the upper house of the Afghan parliament, said the law was “worse than during the Taliban” [emphasis, The Stiletto]. “Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam,” she said. …

Soraya Sobhrang, the head of women’s affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said western silence had been “disastrous for women’s rights in Afghanistan”.

“What the international community has done is really shameful. If they had got more involved in the process when it was discussed in parliament we could have stopped it. Because of the election I am not sure we can change it now. It’s too late for that.”

Clearly Bush failed in securing democracy for the Afghans. Will our troops now be put to the task of helping Karzai subjugate women? As an American and a feminist, The Stiletto finds this mission untenable – and cynical.

A year ago, leftie political cartoonist Ted Rall questioned both the prevailing Dem assumption – which Barack Obama completely bought into – that Afghanistan is the “good war,” and that it is even winnable. Given Karzai’s willingness to contravene the Afghan Constitution by confiscating the freedom of his country’s women and other recent developments, both remain open questions – even with Obama’s proposed surge, which Green Beret-turned-journalist Michael Yon criticizes as being too little, too late:

Like George Bush before him, Obama seems to be trying to win the Afghanistan-Pakistan war on the cheap while minimizing political risks. …

In Afghanistan (now AfPak), we have wasted nearly the entirety of seven years. We have allowed the enemy to control the clock, and they have used that time to build an increasingly powerful resistance.

Even if Obama realizes his military goal to “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan” – a big “if” – Afghanistan will still be another Islamic republic and its women will never see “the promise of a better future.” Obama says he is undertaking AfPak because “the United States of America stands for peace and security, justice and opportunity.” Unless women’s rights are promoted and protected as Afghanistan is stabilized militarily, politically and economically, our troops can, at best, win peace and security – but at the expense of justice and opportunity.

NOTE: The Stiletto Blog has been chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards, along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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