Choosing What to Do in Afghanistan: A Reply by Richard W. Miller [Full Text]

In responding to some especially important doubts and disagreements in the rich comments on my essay on America's Afghan war, my refrain will be, "Take account of the specific features of the particular choice in question." So it will help, at the outset, to distinguish my central claims about choices in Afghanistan from others that I do not advance.

My essay is not an argument for U.S. abandonment of Afghanistan. It begins with a commitment to establish an American moral duty to "pursue negotiations with the Taliban and Pakistan to achieve a political settlement, conceding control of the Pashtun countryside to the Taliban ... [a] project that ought to include ending the U.S. offensive in that part of the country and rapidly reducing the U.S. forces as a whole to, at most, a residual force for training, logistic and air support, emergency defense of cities, and closely targeted attacks on international terrorist operations" (p. 103). The settlement would include a national coalition government as part of the normal Afghan mix of limited governance from the center and regionally dispersed power. Pursuit of this partial accommodation, backed up by that residual force, would hardly dictate abandonment of all "pursuit of a partially just peace at the negotiating table," as Darrel Moellendorf at one point suggests (p. 161). Moreover, such backup force could make an outcome to which the responses often advert—a Taliban takeover of the country against the wishes of the great majority—irrelevant to the choice that dominates the essay: whether to pursue that path of partial accommodation backed by force or to continue on the current path of relentless counterinsurgency. With much less U.S. backup than that residual force, Afghan armed forces much smaller and less well-equipped than the Afghan army of today expelled the Taliban national government in a month's fighting in 2001.

Finally, I do not think (as Fernando Tesón sometimes suggests) that Taliban victory is inevitable, no matter what the United States does. My claim is that the relentless counterinsurgency required to, in his phrase, "eradicate the Taliban" would be apt to have high moral costs not worth its moral gains as compared with the path of political compromise. I also note that the possibility in principle of permanently eradicating insurgency in Afghanistan has to be qualified by the political reality of limited American patience; otherwise, advocates of eradication may pointlessly sacrifice Afghan lives on the altar of their zeal.1

MORAL COSTS

As a whole, Jeff McMahan's illuminating discussion of proportionality is a powerful argument for the relevance of all of the types of costs that I identified in the current counterinsurgency. But this general support is accompanied by doubts about the actual importance of two particular costs in the case at hand: Taliban deaths and high overall Afghan mortality.

McMahan acknowledges that the deaths of unjust combatants can sometimes be a significant reason why otherwise just war-making is disproportionate. But the killing of Taliban fighters is not, in his view, obviously relevant to the proportionality of the choices in question because of the extent to which the following causal claim may be valid: "an individual Taliban fighter makes a significant contribution to the aim of imposing an unrepresentative and highly repressive government on the people of Afghanistan, against the will of the great majority" (p. 153).

Such a causal assessment would not be a sound basis for dismissing the death of Taliban fighters, in addressing the central moral choice in my essay. It is neither accurate nor relevant to the choice. Very few individual Taliban make a significant contribution to the imposition of Taliban rule on the rural South, much less the national aim McMahan describes. The vast majority make individually nonessential contributions to collective attacks by roving bands on people and facilities, causing damage that, taken in isolation, is not significant for either large aim. Of course, a Taliban fighter's participation in unjust lethal attacks makes it proportionate to use lethal force to stop him, regardless of his impact on a large political aim. Moreover, a norm restricting intentional killing in war to those who make an individually significant contribution to the large wrong creating a just cause would be too high a moral barrier to making war in response to such wrongs. As McMahan notes in Killing in War, its observance would make it impossible to succeed in war in virtually all circumstances, even when the cause is of a kind that permissible wars pursue.2 But our issue is whether the United States should seek to obviate the need for lethal violence against Taliban by pursuing a strategy of accommodation.

Could the need to kill a great many more Taliban, who would not engage in lethal attacks in the more accommodating settlement, be a significant part of the case for the moral excessiveness of the relentless counterinsurgency that might lessen injustice in the South, as compared with that settlement? I proposed that the dismissal of this consideration would show inadequate compassion—even though it should be joined with consideration of further costs involving people worthy of greater compassion. Adequate compassion in the political choice of whether to change goals and requisite large-scale strategies of violence gives significant weight to opportunities to avoid killing those whose violence will make them appropriate targets if the current project is maintained. This attitude toward future killing fits McMahan's characteristic compassion elsewhere in his response. When he expresses doubts as to whether the defense of British sovereignty over 1,800 Falklanders would have justified the foreseeable killing of about that many Argentine soldiers, the question of whether Thatcher was excessive does not seem to rest on whether those soldiers would have been deployed in tactics in which each made a causally significant contribution to the unjust cause. Similarly, if they would have taken part in Taliban-style guerrilla warfare, the dictate of compassion seems the same.

McMahan is also skeptical of the role of high overall Afghan mortality in my argument against continued extensive counterinsurgency. If very high mortality apart from death in war has continued to be Afghanistan's situation since 1990, then, he suggests, stable order under Taliban rule might have kept it high and public health improvements dependent upon a U.S./NATO victory might be the best means of lowering it.

The dismissal of large indirect costs from continued counterinsurgency on the basis of this hypothesis (which McMahan only recommends as worth considering) would neglect relevant history and relevant alternatives. Although the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, armed conflict based on opposition to the Taliban continued until their overthrow in 2001. The absence of the geopolitical stakes of the anti-Soviet period together with nearly universal non-recognition of the Taliban regime and growing opposition by major donors led to a meager flow of foreign aid, about $5 per Afghan in 2000, a third less than in 1995.3 Continued relentless counterinsurgency will sustain the civil conflict that tears at the fabric of Afghan life and includes Taliban attacks on facilities that they see as means of extending U.S. influence. A political settlement, on the other hand, should certainly include help in reconstruction and development throughout the country, including public health. The Taliban have been receptive to aid under their control—to be confined to the rural South under my proposed settlement—if it meets their strictures on gender segregation.4

In contrast to McMahan's limited doubts about my view of the costs of this counterinsurgency, Tesón's response is strong, comprehensive rejection. The alternative that I recommend is a project of "Enabling Monsters," his title declares. "This is a regime that executed girls as young as eight years old for the crime of attending school" (p. 168). In his view, the Taliban have an entrenched principled commitment to pervasive atrocity, part of an unjust cause that each Taliban insurgent "fully endorses" (p. 170), which can only be stopped by violence. A political settlement ceding them control of Afghan territory would ensure "despotic rule, the horrific nature of which is not speculative but certain" (p. 169). In his assessment, the saving of Taliban lives has no moral force as a reason not to try to "eradicate" them, just as the preservation of the lives of committed genocidal exterminators is no reason to leave them free to exterminate. His dismissal of Afghan opposition to continued counterinsurgency extends to others as well. Even if the majority of people in Helmand and Kandahar provinces favor a political settlement in which the Taliban have local control, this is no reason not to engage in the effort to eradicate, despite suffering among non-Taliban that is its expected consequence. Non-Taliban who favor the settlement are either collaborators moved by "desires to oppress their fellow-citizens" (p. 173), or people whose callow disregard for others' victimization makes their desires (which must be based on abhorrence of the presence of foreign troops) morally irrelevant, like an Afghan man's rejection of "the attempt by U.S. troops to rescue a woman about to be stoned alive" (p. 174).5

In support of his claim about the execution of girls as young as eight for attending school, Tesón cites an article in a conservative magazine, in which this claim is undocumented, by a writer with no expertise on Afghanistan, who nearly always writes on other topics.6 The only other work he cites, a report of interviews in 1998 with a skilled and educated group of women who had lived in Kabul, most of them for many years, provides vivid evidence of wrongs that I, too noted: the Taliban regime's severe and harmful constraints in imposing a sexist, puritanical moral code brought from their rural Pashtun base to the rest of the country, imposing it with special severity in Kabul, which they viewed as an urban sink of corruption.7 These are just a sample of the wrongs I ascribed to the Taliban, including atrocious harms (see, especially, p. 106). But the reality was not the pervasive, horrific, unbending imposition of rigid and atrocious strictures that Tesón posits as a certainty. For example, in some regions the regime accommodated local demands for maintenance and even expansion of girls' education, including schools in the eastern part of the Pashtun belt, educating tens of thousands of girls with NGO support.8 Even in Kabul, the regime sanctioned medical training for women at the central hospital and a large secondary school for girls (run by a famed reciter of the Koran).9 In Pashtun villages, women continued to play their usual active role in their households' economy, in a separate sphere of women and close family; in other rural areas, less rigid and unequal norms continued to prevail. Gilles Dorronsoro notes in his fundamental study, "For country women . . . the principal effect of the arrival of the Taliban was an end to insecurity."10

Currently, in Taliban-governed areas legal intervention is typically left to local adjudication by clergy or elders, if it does not impinge on local power-relations, as in land disputes. The Taliban have become much less restrictive concerning personal appearance and recreation. When they have sufficient assurance that NGOs are not helping the Kabul regime or U.S./NATO forces, they often accommodate and even protect their operations. Their militants in the South are typically motivated by grievance and resentment at intrusion by outsiders, not by puritanical zeal.11

In Tesón's view, the choice of a woman in the Pashtun countryside to support continued relentless American counterinsurgency seems as easy as the choice of a Jew in Poland in 1944 to support the Allies' fight against Nazi Germany. The choice looks very different on the view that I have sketched, of a coercive movement that is deeply flawed but not a gang of monsters, uniformly and enduringly committed to the imposition of horrific rule. On the one hand, under the political settlement that Tesón rejects, these women will be able to live lives of dignity, sustaining bonds of affection and pursuing worthwhile goals with which they identify. They will also be burdened by rigid gender-biased constraints on public activity and sexual conduct, sometimes cruelly enforced. Some will regard the unjust standards of propriety and honor to which they defer as deeply wrong, while others, perhaps the majority, will accept them and the false views of gender difference that serve to justify them.12 The political settlement may make these constraints somewhat more rigid and long-lasting. But this is by no means certain: these constraints would be strongly entrenched without any organized militant enforcement; the targeted killings of relentless counterinsurgency increase the prevalence of fanatics among Taliban commanders; the Southern offensive's attacks on Taliban governance structures reduce Taliban incentives to accommodate more moderate local views in the interest of stability.

On the other hand, a rural Pashtun woman has good evidence that continued massive counterinsurgency, as opposed to political settlement, will increase death, injury and dispossession and disrupt the pursuit of worthwhile goals among many people. These may include herself or those she loves, perhaps a son drawn to the Taliban out of outrage at injury, depredation, or intrusion, with no interest in imposing a heavier burden of constraint on women. Such dangers are worthy of deep concern on the part of rural Pashtun women, and also the deep concern of rural Pashtun men and of women, as well as men outside the Pashtun belt threatened by the diffusion of Taliban strength in response to the U.S. Southern offensive.

I defended the view that losses of these kinds are likely to be so extensive that the United States is not justified in inflicting them by a reasonable assessment of likely consequences. This verdict, I noted, might be reversed by knowledge that those whose lives are at risk and who have moral standing to complain largely give their informed consent to the risky operation. The great deal that we know about Afghans' response to unending disorder (for example, from the poignant report of interviews in the Red Cross survey I cited in note 26) supports the view that people in Helmand and Kandahar provinces largely withhold this consent not out of commitment to evil Taliban strictures, not out of opposition to foreign rescue of Afghan women from Taliban atrocities, but because they want to be free to pursue worthwhile goals without the disruption and harm of violent disorder. To dismiss this as morally irrelevant opposition is to show contempt for the value of autonomy that gives human rights their point. To protest that Afghans' collective property-right in their territory as a whole deprives the aspirations of those especially affected by the proposed political settlement of any special standing shows a morally untethered statism. It also seems to require obliviousness to the sources of political power when a regime is created by the United States and gets the votes of a small minority with little choice, in a country in which the United States shapes the provision of public goods.

CHOICES AND TIMES

Darrel Moellendorf and David Rodin cogently insist on the moral importance of differences in the timing of choices involving war. They sometimes suggest that I resist such distinctions, but I embrace them. Obligations acquired by prior involvement, which they take to be a needed corrective to my undifferentiated view, are essential to my argument that American lives should be put at risk in pressing for the settlement I support (p. 116). Similarly, I share Rodin's apt concerns about damage done by inadequate reflection on the prior course of an ongoing war. But I think that the corrective is the unblinkered assessment of current alternatives that I prescribed, which gives no weight to "sunk costs" as such.

The choice of a violent course of conduct, whether continued or newly launched, is morally impermissible unless the reasons for engaging in this endeavor are at least as strong, taken together, as the reasons for engaging in some less violent course instead. The reasons relevant to permissibility are neither strictly objective nor strictly subjective, since they depend on the view of the current situation that those making the choice would have if they responsibly monitored their situation, given available evidence. Once a war is launched, it generates new responsibilities for creating an acceptable civic order, and, often, new evidence of the costs of the initial choice of aims, such as the exclusion of the Taliban from the civic order. It also creates new facts on the ground, which often increase the expected costs of continued pursuit of old aims—for example, Afghan resentment at the cumulative toll of collateral damage, raids on homes, and detainment and interrogation, which has greatly increased the appeal of the Taliban, as well as Afghan despair at the incompetence and corruption of the Kabul regime based on cumulative failures of reform. By the same token, less violent aims and strategies that were weak moral competitors before, such as partial accommodation of the Taliban, acquire stronger rationales. The resulting transformation of a permissible endeavor to an impermissible one can be obscured by undue concentration on the question of whether its aim continues to be worth its expected costs. Without comparative reflection on the alternatives, the question is often unanswerable when a worthy aim is pursued in the face of the ineliminable uncertainties of war.

In a dynamic that Rodin trenchantly describes, generals, hating failure, fixate on the evidence that the old aim is better pursued by new means, often involving escalation. Political leaders of great powers are also overly attached to this empirical inference, since significant partial victory for the other side increases risks of electoral defeat and damages the great power's credibility. Without counting sunk costs as such, the right strategy for containing these dangers would bring to the fore the discouraging evidence and promising alternatives that generals and presidents ignore, and note their systematic tendencies to over-sell the continued pursuit of excessively destructive aims. And, of course, there is a moral duty to combat the frequent obscene attempt to turn sunk costs into reasons for future violence by arguing that more people should be sacrificed in order to ensure that the dead will not have died in an enterprise abandoned on grounds of excessive expected costs.

THE ARGUMENT FROM HEGEMONY

No respondent likes my treatment of the justification of relentless counterinsurgency as part of a grand strategy of maintaining U.S. preeminence for as long as possible. All except for Tesón think that I should have been more dismissive of this rationale.

One prominent reason for the majority's dismissal is general skepticism about the contribution of violent foreign initiatives to continued American global preeminence. But support for some repressive client regimes, their occasional use in proxy wars, and, sometimes, their violent preservation, as a last resort in the most vital cases, do not seem obsolete. For example, the recent noble uprisings in Arab countries have, if anything, increased U.S. gains from a tight alliance with Saudi tyrants who use their near monopoly of excess oil-extraction capacity to sustain U.S. interests and who help to violently repress the Shiite majority among U.S. clients in neighboring Gulf oil emirates. (The repression is also helped by mercenaries provided by U.S. firms.) The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia that the U.S. supported in 2007 has been a disaster for Somalis, but successfully ended control of a strategic Red Sea coast by an Islamist government highly independent of America's will. Pressures on U.S. access to natural resources and investment opportunities due to China's rise make enduring client relations increasingly beneficial—and independent players, defiant of U.S. interests, increasingly threatening. Regional rivals, such as India and Pakistan and Iran and the Sunni monarchies, continue to seek great power allies in their fearful competition and can, over the long run, abandon the United States for others. If the United States were never to cash in its sole qualitative superiority, namely, military superiority, to support or initiate violence as its outposts are threatened, it is plausible that the U.S. would lose preeminence sooner than if there were occasional resort to such violence. Yet once violence is initiated, the need to preserve credible fearsomeness counts strongly against retreat. In Afghanistan, considerations of all these kinds suggest that continued relentless counterinsurgency would help to extend American preeminence for as long as possible.

If continuing American preeminence for as long as possible is of great benefit for humanity, such plausible speculations might make it permissible to sponsor or inflict occasional violence, at least if those intentionally killed have made themselves liable through unjust projects, such as the Taliban or Saddam's regime. All of the respondents scrutinize the hypothesis in the "if" clause, and all, except for Tesón, agree with me in rejecting it. But their rejection sometimes seems too quick. American political leaders of both parties certainly wildly exaggerate their country's freedom from "the corruption of power and the fallibility of the intellect," in Moellendorf's trenchant phrase (p. 162), implying moral mandates that, as Rodin aptly observes, touch on "delusional hubris." But the question is not whether this smug self-righteousness merits respect, but whether the aim of continuing American preeminence for as long as possible merits support in a world in which other powers are flawed as well, and morally defective stability, global and regional, is often better than instability. Only a detailed account of past consequences of America's domineering influence and enduring tendencies that they reveal can engage with this vitally important claim.

Tesón supports the hegemonic rationale for the Afghan war, rejecting arguments I have made in the essay and in Globalizing Justice. The rejection is eloquent and forthright, but I found its basis unclear. In part, this is because I am sometimes unsure whether he means what he seems to be saying. He seems to propose that U.S. preeminence may last forever. He seems to regard the view that China will catch up with the United States as a half-baked speculation among the chattering class, especially popular on its left wing (p. 175). In fact, this expectation is common ground of intellectuals on the left, of the CIA, and of Henry Kissinger. Corrected for inflation, annual growth in GDP averaged 10.1 percent in China from 1980 through 1990, 10.6 percent from 1990 through 2000, and 10.9 percent from 2000 through 2009, while the U.S. rates were, respectively, 3.5 percent, 3.6 percent, and 2.0 percent.13 An increment half as big as in the 1990s would produce convergence in total GDP within about the next thirty years.

If the dwindling of unipolarity is a good bet, the question remains of whether postponing it for as long as possible is apt to be of such great benefit that relentless counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is justified by the plausible speculation that it will help this hegemonic project. I am not sure how Tesón supports his side of this disagreement, because his vigorous arguments do not engage with my own. For example, I entirely agree that hegemony is not "immoral per se" (p. 178). The continuance of a unipolar power structure could, in principle, greatly benefit humanity as a whole, on account of virtues of stability and beneficent intervention.

What I did claim is that enduring tendencies in the making of U.S. foreign policy give rise to extensive unjustifiable death, destruction, and instability in developing countries, even though U.S. hegemony is also, in some respects, a source of tranquility and security (p. 124). Those tendencies, combined with the likely humane benefits of a tranquil transition to China's co-eminence, make the hegemonic rationale for counterinsurgency in Afghanistan inadequate. Tesón says he disagrees with the whole argument, but because of his disengagement from its claims, I am not sure why.

I wish I could agree with George Lucas's proposal, in his thoughtful, trenchant appraisal of U.S. foreign-policy-making, that the dispute over hegemony is irrelevant to Afghanistan because of the president's promise of troop withdrawal. The start of reduction from the surge's peak may inaugurate the less violent course I recommend, but it could be the start of a long, unconsummated goodbye that kills, maims, and dispossesses a great many more and leaves behind a U.S. presence that is unacceptable to the Taliban. As a complement to this demotion of the dispute over hegemony, Lucas argues that Pakistan's fragility is the genuinely pressing strategic concern. I certainly agree that it is a reason for "staying put ... a little longer" to achieve "a political stasis" less burdened by dangers of Pakistani disorder or aggression (p. 138). But in the choice in question in my essay, massive counterinsurgency, as opposed to partial accommodation, heightens these dangers by strengthening fears in Pakistan of an Indian bastion to the west, outrage at drone attacks in Pakistani sanctuaries, and cooperation between Afghan Taliban fighters and jihadi and secessionist forces in Pakistan.

STANDARDS OF EVIDENCE

I will end with a very brief response to comments by Moellendorf. that touch on the vital topic of the right terms of epistemic appraisal of arguments about war. Of course, before he or she accepts my conclusions, a reader should reflect on his or her own independent information, perhaps after further inquiries. But Moellendorf makes a stronger claim of incompleteness, a charge that my way of supporting empirical claims shows lax standards in arguing about war.

For example, I claimed that closely targeted attacks by Special Forces and drones on international terrorists in Afghanistan, combined with the activities of America's Afghan allies, could continue to keep Afghanistan from being an al-Qaeda haven without supplement by extensive counterinsurgency. In support, I noted that cogent arguments along these lines, backed by U.S. intelligence findings, are reported in seven passages in Woodward's narrative of the Obama administration's deliberations, and added further citations from writings of an eminent Afghanistan expert and a leading expert on U.S. military options in the region (pp. 113f., 129). Nonetheless, Moellendorf characterizes my claim as "asserted and not argued" (p. 159). This is part of a verdict that I attend "insufficiently to the empirical considerations that are essential to settle matters" (p. 160). This judgment of inadequacy is preceded by the comment that "it is difficult to see why the limited support" that I provide for some projections of consequences of continued counterinsurgency "should be expected to settle the matter" since "it is remarkably difficult to predict the course of a counterinsurgency war."

I would not claim that the evidence that I offered, alone or supplemented by further inquiry, would establish what will happen so conclusively as to settle the matter (say, putting it beyond the reach of all significant rational doubt). But the burden of justification should, I think, be on those who intend to engage in intentional killing on a large scale with expected dire consequences, direct and indirect, for innocent victims. The existence of a just cause is, as such, the existence of an aim of a kind that morally permissible large-scale violence can have, not a virtue that eliminates the special burden of justification for those who propose initiatives in death and injury.

The special prerogatives of self-defense can, I think, reduce this burden. Perhaps when people rally in violent defense of their own dignity and freedom, the residual requirement is nothing more than a fighting chance of success. This is the sort of significance that I ascribe to the political distance of interveners, as opposed to the closeness, say, of rebels, in the passages that Tesón suspects of excusing grave wrongs.

Von Moltke's mot, "No military plan survives contact with the enemy," might be matched with the observation that no determinate set of moral standards survives contact with the choices posed by a war. Whoever is right about America's Afghan war, much work is needed to find better means of moral guidance— a shared endeavor resourcefully advanced by these probing yet constructive responses.

 

NOTES

1 In the passage that Tesón interprets as claiming that the Taliban cannot be defeated, I say that a prediction of civilian war that I do not endorse presupposes an assessment of the Taliban's strength that would also make Afghanistan apt to flare up into terrible conflict after the eventual departure of U.S. troops, "postponing the time at which the fires of war finally burn out" (p. 116).

2 See McMahan, Killing in War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 197.

3 Net official development assistance according to World Development Indicators 2002 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002), Table 6.10. The flow of aid in 2009 was forty-five times greater than in 2000; see World Development Indicators 2011 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2011), Table 6.16.

4 Summarizing the experience of NGO workers in 2010, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office in Kabul notes that "there remains no evidence to suggest that AOG [armed opposition groups] deliberately target NGOs (except deminers [who remove insurgents' improvised explosive devices]) or that we will not retain space for our operations. ANSO [Afghanistan NGO Safety Office] continues to advise that transparent dialogue with all combatants is the key to NGO safety going into 2011." Their main anxiety concerning future developments is that U.S./NATO arming of local militias, to make up for deficiencies of the Afghan National Army, will revive the depredations of the warlord period. See ANSO Quarterly Data Report, Quarter 4, 2010, pp. 1, 3.

5 The actual large majorities whose significance Tesón dismisses were in a survey designed to insure that half of the respondents were women, who were interviewed by women. See ABC News, "Where Things Stand: Afghanistan 2010—Note on Methodology," December 6, 2010; abcnews.go.com/Politics/Afghanistan/afghanistan-things-stand-note-methodology/story?id=12279705.

6 In Timothy Maier's article, the claim about the execution of girls as young as eight for attending school leads to a long description of the content and filming of a documentary by Saira Shah. Born and raised in England (not raised in Afghanistan, as Maier writes), with cherished ancestral ties to Afghanistan through her father, the Anglo-Indian writer, Idries Shah, she filmed most of the documentary on a courageous journey in Afghanistan in 2001. In it, there is no mention of executions for attending school, nor is there any mention in her autobiography or her interviews at the time with CNN and the BBC. See Saira Shah, Beneath the Veil (full version), www.liveleak.com/view?i=da6_1236878483; Shah, The Storyteller's Daughter (London: Penguin, 2003); "Inside Afghanistan: Behind the Veil," BBC News, June 22, 2001; "Journalist Saira Shah: Life in Afghanistan under the Taliban," CNN.com, August 24, 2001.

7 See Physicians for Human Rights, The Taliban's War on Women (1998), law.georgetown.edu/rossrights/docs/reports/taliban.pdf. Of the 160 participants, based on lists provided by NGOs, 85 precet had lived in Kabul for 19 years or more. 38 percent listed occupations classified as "Professional/educator," 24 percent "Clerk/nurse/health technician/other," 38 percent "Housewife/student." Further, 86 percent were non-Pashtun, and the interviews were conducted exclusively in Dari, never in Pashto. Taliban sympathizers were excluded. See pp. 43–47.

8 See Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000), p. 110; Peter Marsden, The Taliban (London: Zed Books, 2002), p. 89.

9 See James Fergusson, Taliban (London: Bantam, 2010), p. 69. Fergusson, Rashid, and others describe an internal political dynamic of the regime reflected in variations in the treatment of women: the leadership's perceived needs in maintaining loyalty and discipline among their core rank-and-file fighters in this period, very young men, often orphans, who had grown up without contact with women, as wards of fundamentalist madrasas around the refugee camps of Pakistan. See, for example, Fergusson, The Taliban, pp. 44–8, 68; Rashid, The Taliban, p. 111; Nancy Hatch Dupree, "Afghan Women under the Taliban," in William Maley, ed., Fundamentalism Reborn? (New York: New York University Press, 1998), pp. 150f.

10 Gilles Dorronsoro, Revolution Unending (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), p. 300.

11 This portrayal of the current Taliban derives, in part, from work cited in similar contexts on notes 7, 12, 13, and 14 of my essay, together with the reports on recent Taliban activity in particular provinces by Mohammed Elias, Christoph Reuter and Bothan Younus, Tom Coghlan and Martina van Bijlert in Antonio Giustozzi, ed., Decoding the New Taliban (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), especially, pp. 51 (Kabul), 111 (Ghazni), 126, 148 (Helmand); 168 (Uruzgan); Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, ANSO Quarterly Data Report. Quarter 4, 2010, pp. 1, 9; and Dorronsoro, Afghanistan: The Impossible Transition, Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 2011), pp. 4, 11.

12 Nancy Tapper, Bartered Brides: Politics, Gender and Marriage in an Afghan Tribal Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) includes accounts of these underlying attitudes among a Pashtun group in the north in the 1970s. The scope and limits of women's sphere in Pashtun villages are succinctly evoked in Laurent Dessart, Les Pachtounes (Paris: Harmattan, 2001), pp. 313–25.

13 See World Development Indicators 2002, Table 4.1; World Development Indicators 2011, Table 4.1.

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