Friday, April 3, 2009

Beating Children, But Not Extremely

The Secretary of State says the U.S. is open to reconciliation with non-extremist elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. After watching a portion of this video, obtained by the British Guardian, I'm wondering who that would be. The video shows a teenage girl being flogged. Here's why, according to an official Taliban spokesman:
"She came out of her house with another guy who was not her husband, so we must punish her. There are boundaries you cannot cross," he said. He defended the Taliban's right to thrash women shoppers who were inappropriately dressed, saying it was permitted under Islamic law.
Would the person who spoke those words be an extremist or Secretary Clinton's new conversation partner? If the latter, what would be their common frame of reference as negotiations begin, besides the shared experience of walking upright?

Given her devotion to the rights of women and children, it's an especially sad irony that Clinton should be the one to extend the hand of peace to those who beat children in the name of God. I've often wondered how history might've been different if, as First Lady, she had exerted pressure (or more pressure; who knows what passes between a couple?) on Bill Clinton to adopt a more aggressive position against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan as the world learned of the regime's savage atrocities against women. President Nixon's former aide Bruce Herschensohn called for the Taliban's ouster in 1999 -- a lonely voice at the time, perhaps a prophetic one after Sept. 11. In any event, if we talk to the Taliban now, it should be about a lot more than al-Qaeda.

Read David Stokes' views on the subject here.

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