“In addition, since establishing the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) in 2005, Congress has made appropriations to the fund subject to the stipulation that they “shall be available to the Secretary of Defense, notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
Notwithstanding, meaning without being prevented by, provided the Pentagon with an easy loophole to circumvent The Leahy Law—which prevents American funding of foreign security forces engaged in violation of human rights—and continue it’s imperial industrial military cult mission into Afghanistan, unchecked. Despite confirming gross human rights violations committed by particular ASF (Afghan Security Forces) units, the Pentagon and the State Department invoked the notwithstanding clause to continue to fund the ASFF. Use of the clause for this purpose required no Congressional approval. This is America.
Interestingly, half a century ago, in his farewell speech, the only military general ever elected POTUS in the 20th century warned of this very phenomenon, predicting that misplaced power of unelected Pentagon officials would set a course that impedes liberty and subverts democracy and jeopardises peace.
“… we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist …”
—Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address
The SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan) report describes interviewing several individuals with knowledge of the occurrence of Bacha Bazi—the practise of kidnapping, trafficking, and sexual enslavement of young boys, sometimes called chai boys. Many individuals described a reluctance to report specifics to US representatives for fear of reprisal and service members either reported being told to overlook the abuse or feeling as though they had received inadequate training or directives as to how to address any child abuse they did see. Bacha Bazi is very sensitive, and those involved are in high positions within the Afghan military, which makes going after these individuals very difficult, reported a NGO representative.
Despite the investigation of complaints brought forth by service members in both the US and Canada, investigations conducted by each country’s DOD found no evidence that anyone in the … operational chain of command had ever ordered troops to ignore sexual assault of minors by the ANSF. It’s a common refrain I have read in reports, and it doesn’t surprise me that military command would throw it’s members under the bus in a Machiavellian effort to dodge accountability for crimes against humanity.
Despite the apparent lack of evidence, despite the notwithstanding clause, despite the denials and an utter lack of transparency—service members witnessed and heard what they did, they suffered a great deal under the strain of having to exist in an ecosystem which gives rise to such vile moral dilemmas. Facts remain whether we choose to believe or ignore them. Which military commander or other authority figure would want to admit to complicity in the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes? How could any of them possibly justify turning a blind eye to such heinous crimes that eventually would pose a serious security risk to Afghan and US forces? The Taliban took their opportunity to use Bacha Bazi victims as Trojan horses for the Afghan Police, so widespread was the practise of Bach Bazi amongst the police force and command.
Beyond this, the obvious remains—America’s military industrial cult directly contributed to the utter devastation and disintegration of Afghanistan and Afghan society. Afghan society has had war for over four decades. War perpetuates human rights violations—rape becomes a favourite currency of society in war time. In my research I have learned that the CIA gave Afghan warlords Viagra as an incentive to provide them with intelligence and other assistance in it’s war on terror. Yes, the CIA gave pedophiles Viagra. I guess when the pedo has four wives we can tell ourselves we’re helping a guy out by giving him Viagra. American First.
It’s widely know amongst NGOs and journalists and others in the know on the ground that the CIA backed warlords who had chai boys and a reputation for pederasty—in fact one of them ran for the presidency of Afghanistan, and became a minister in the Ghani regime. Najibullah Quraishi documented extensively the phenomenon of Bacha Bazi in a film that shocked the world. Ben Anderson also produced a disturbing documentary about the abuse and corruption endemic in both the Afghan police and security forces. Both the NTY and WaPo published pieces on Bacha Bazi and its connection to the military occupation. The Dutch have written about the moral dilemma Bacha Bazi presented Dutch service members in the context of military ethics. A handful of activists have spoken out and some feared for their physical safety in doing so—a blanket of silence remains. Point being—political decision makers knew about the abuse and chose to overlook it because that served their geopolitical and self interests. Powerful men who do bad things elude accountability—geopolitical interests of the military industrial cult took priority over the human rights and physical safety of children.
The Government of Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Government actors continue to conflate the crimes of kidnapping and trafficking; this poor understanding of trafficking poses an impediment to targeted intervention. An undeveloped judicial and prosecutorial system, judicial delays, corruption, and weak coordination remain obstacles to effectively punishing trafficking offenses. In addition, Afghanistan punishes some victims of sex trafficking with imprisonment for adultery or prostitution, acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
—US State Department, 2009
I wonder if, now that America has pulled out of Afghanistan, we can revisit the mission, its stated purpose, and its main beneficiaries. I remember when this war began and I remember the false narrative promoted to convince the tax payers funding this endeavour of its absolute necessity. Emotions were high, the lust for vengeance deep, and rationality in very short supply. Point blank—America lied about this mission into Afghanistan and they engaged in a strategy of coercion and manipulation to strong arm NATO countries into going to war. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists, said George W. Bush in his petulant cry for war.
Look mate, twenty years later I have to ask—who really are the terrorists in all this? What if the imperialists are terrorists, too? We need transparency, we who paid for this war with our tax dollars and also our children and families and communities—we need to take a full accounting of all atrocities done in our names and in the name of the Afghan people to the Afghan people and their country. We demand accountability for the service members’ lives lost and those spared yet forever altered by their experiences serving in Afghanistan. We demand accountability for the Afghan people.
Sex with boys is called rape, so let’s stop whitewashing it and call it by its name. Trafficking children for the purposes of sex slavery is a crime against humanity, and in the case of Bacha Bazi, it is also a war crime. There is no reason that any human should be required to listen the screams of young boys being sodomised by men in the middle of the night in the process of serving their country as a member of the armed forces! Following orders is not an excuse for enabling human rights violations! After WW2 have we not learned this—seriously? The raping of boys by Afghan Security Forces violates the Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child—Afghanistan has membership in both. For political reasons the US chooses against membership within the International Criminal Court and would likely succeed in pressuring nation members of the ICC not to co-operate with any investigation into the human rights violations which took place in Afghanistan. Afghanistan stands as solid evidence why America never again has any business interfering into the affairs of other nations—preservation of hegemony and acting out a vengeance hard-on are not reasons to stage a military invasion into a country and destroy that country. The American invasion of Afghanistan defied international law—America waged an illegal war.
The collection of documents relating to Afghanistan declassified by the US State Department in 2018 provides a blueprint of the road to hell paved with America’s good intentions. America backed Afghan rebels against Soviet invasion to destabilise the USSR and precipitate the fall of communism, yet China seems poised to engage with Afghanistan and make itself a major player in central Asia and the Middle East, so one wonders about the severity of the blow dealt to communism. Yes, the USSR collapsed and the Iron Curtain fell. Though, let’s not forget the former head of the KGB is president of Russia and that the Chinese Communist Party wields influence as the major super power with which to reckon. Let’s also notice how China has funded infrastructure projects in the developing world and also it’s growing influence in the MENA region. That’s not to mention the very unfortunate effect of the Americans arming the Afghan resistance and then creating a vacuum by walking away from it at the end of the Cold War—civil war and a rise in extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan. So, really, what did America gain in the long run by destroying Afghanistan? Aside from wealthy military contractors? Ok, America indulged it’s revenge hard-on. It lost the war, though. So, was the vengeance orgasm worth it, I wonder? If we are measuring the success of military campaigns by the dopamine hits they give, the War on Terror definitely delivered. War has proved a powerful drug to America. The Dark Triad rules.
So, when I saw those photographs of US service members holding Afghan children floating around the media, and observed the naive gushy public reaction to this feel-good visual propaganda, I cringed whilst marvelling at how well the propaganda machinery works.
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
― Joseph Goebbels
There is no such thing as a free lunch, so if you appreciate my work and want to follow this series, please consider getting a paid subscription—at some point I will be putting this stuff behind a paywall.
*many thanks to sound engineer Robert Pilkington for working his magic on the audio clip.
The immediate plan for this series, (not necessarily in this order), down a rabbit hole—
the etymology of the war on terror—from an American foreign policy POV
the impact on Afghanistan and the Afghan people of the war on terror
a human history of pederasty
what Bacha Bazi looks like
the experience of military service personnel who encountered Bacha Bazi