In “Leaving Afghanistan,” Rep. Marty Wilde attempted to recap in a 750-word op-ed the ways our 20-year investment failed to provide Afghans with a better option than the Taliban. Letter writer Jo Anne Ryan (Letters, 8/26) believed Wilde missed the point about specific failures for Afghan women. He didn’t.
In fact, recent published work about their situation shows that the U.S.-supported Afghan government offered new obstacles for women. For example, research conducted for and by Afghan women shows that despite their effective efforts to start their own businesses and serve in elective office, their reluctance to engage in the graft of government agencies — not the Taliban — presented an insurmountable obstacle to their success.
Afghan girls have their own big brothers to protect them, if indeed they need protection. U.S. intervention seemed to be protecting the local grifters. It did little to nourish the honorable people of all types in their efforts to grow their own government, worthy of their loyalty, and their own economies, based on local talent and resources. The Afghans didn’t need to “catch on” to our ideas. They needed to operationalize the best of their own ideas.
We must pay close attention to the observations and insights of those who have served on the ground and/or studied the situation. Our guesses about what might make sense are likely to be of limited use without further information. And our attributions of evil intent by our own leaders also miss the point: having information matters.