The news out of Afghanistan was brutal last week, as is too often the case. At week’s end, a Taliban suicide bomber driving an ambulance in Kabul killed at least 95 (a figure bound to climb) and injured another 158 or so persons.
One wonders just how much pain a population can endure before it utterly falls apart. And also, just how fortunate we who live in a nation such as ours -- despite all it's political pains, mass shootings and occasional terror attack -- truly are.
Despite more than 16 years of American military involvement in Afghanistan -- our longest foreign conflict ever -- our elite news operations continue to devote a great deal of coverage to Afghanistan. That’s as it should be, even more so given that President Donald Trump has upped our current involvement there, which is also sure to lengthen our stay for years to come.
Earlier last week, another story concerning Afghanistan broke in The New York Times that, I believe, was just as horrific, in its own way, as the Kabul bombing. This one, however, received far less elite media attention -- even as it underscored the extraordinary cultural compromises associated with America’s involvement in Afghanistan, a land as different from our own as to seem at times situated on another planet.
The story, a Times exclusive, ran below the following headline: “Afghan Pedophiles Get Free Pass From U.S. Military, Report Says.”
Sounds dreadful, doesn't it? Well, it is. Here’s how it begins:
On 5,753 occasions from 2010 to 2016, the United States military asked to review Afghan military units to see if there were any instances of “gross human rights abuses.” If there were, American law required military aid to be cut off to the offending unit.
Not once did that happen.
That was among the findings in an investigation into child sexual abuse by the Afghan security forces and the supposed indifference of the American military to the problem, according to a report released on Monday by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, known as Sigar.