Kabul Siege Signals Time to Get Out

Why we should abandon the unaccomplished -- and undefined -- mission now.

Details are still unclear, but it appears that as many as six jihad/martyrdom suicide bombers descended upon the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul Tuesday night. As many as ten people have been murdered, and the Taliban is thumping its chest in victory. The death toll could end up being much higher: a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, exulted: “Our muj [mujahedin, warriors of jihad] entered the hotel, and they’ve gone through several stories of the building and they are breaking into each room and they are targeting the 300 Afghans and foreigners who are staying.”

The Taliban would kill Afghans as well as foreigners because they consider them to be complicit with the U.S.-backed government of Hamid Karzai. With Barack Obama’s announcement of a drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, they see an opportunity to assert their presence and power. The American troops will go, and their murder and mayhem will increase. Many will see in this an argument to keep the troops there, so as to preserve order – but what order prevails in Afghanistan today, after eight years of an American military presence there?

The Taliban’s continued ability to commit this murder and mayhem in Afghanistan is testimony to the failure of the American adventure there, the loss of thousands of lives of noble and courageous American military personnel who deserved better from those in command, and the wanton waste of billions of dollars. It was not a failure of power: we were not outgunned or outfought. It was a failure of will, stemming from a misdiagnosis of the problem. Two American administrations have spoken about bringing democracy and freedom to Afghanistan, and yet have not been able or willing to face the fact that the foremost obstacle to those goals was Islam, which respects neither.

Speaking about the vaunted “Arab Spring” a few weeks ago, Barack Obama declared: “The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.”

But not Kabul, apparently. The Bush Administration sponsored the implementation in Afghanistan of a Constitution that enshrined Islamic law as the highest law of the land, such that no law could be made that contradicted it. The bitter fruit of that disastrously short-sighted decision began to appear early on: in 2006 the Karzai government put a convert from Islam to Christianity on trial for apostasy, a capital offense under Islamic law. When an aghast State Department protested, pointing out that Afghanistan’s shiny new Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, Afghan officials patiently explained to them that it guaranteed freedom of religion within the bounds of Sharia.

Within the bounds of Sharia. That meant the institutionalized oppression of women and non-Muslims, the extinguishing of the freedom of speech, and – as was clear from the Abdul Rahman case and other apostasy cases that followed it -- the denial of the freedom of conscience. Sanctioned by the Karzai government, not just by the Taliban.

Nonetheless, America continued to pour out her blood and treasure for this repressive state, with no clear objective or mission in view other than a never-defined “victory.” What would victory have looked like? What could it possibly have looked like? Was the Karzai government, or any Afghan government that followed it, ever going to allow women to throw off their burqas and take their place in Afghan society as human beings equal in dignity to men? Was the Karzai government, or any Afghan government that followed it, ever going to guarantee basic human rights to the tiny and ever-dwindling number of non-Muslims unfortunate enough to live within its borders? Absolutely not. The Bush and Obama Administrations, both drunk on the “Religion of Peace” Kool-Aid they have relentlessly peddled to the American people, completely disregarded the nature of Islam as a political system as well as a religion, and hence made no consideration whatsoever of the likelihood that most Afghans would reject the idea of a secular government, free elections, and equality of rights for all people as a blasphemous rejection of the way that a proper Islamic society should be ordered.

And so in Afghanistan today there is no “free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders” – except within the sharply circumscribed limits of Sharia. The Taliban is so strong that even Karzai has made overtures to it, as has Barack Obama; eight years after it was toppled from power, its claim of Islamic authenticity strongly resonates with the Afghan people, and provides an ever-renewable wellspring of material, financial, and moral support for these vicious thugs as they bomb girls’ schools, music stores, and other outcroppings of jahiliyya – the infidels’ society of ignorance.

With the withdrawal of the American troops, there will be many more Taliban actions like the one at the Intercontinental Hotel Tuesday night. That is unfortunate. But it is nothing that we ever could have definitively and finally stamped out anyway. The mind that believes that the supreme lord and master of the universe promises him a place in Paradise if he kills in his service and is killed in the process (cf. Qur’an 9:111) will not be dissuaded from this conviction by a few bags of rations and a clean new school for his daughters. The mind that believes that no non-Muslim has any right to rule in any part of Allah’s earth, and that it is the responsibility of Muslims to fight against Infidel polities in order to spread Sharia around the world will not be dissuaded by vague and high-toned promises of “freedom.”

The foremost lesson of America’s misbegotten Afghan adventure is that our national unwillingness to face the unpleasant truths about Islam, and particularly Islamic supremacism, costs us lives, costs us money, and makes us even more vulnerable to jihad attack than we already were. It’s time not just to bring the troops home from their foredoomed mission, but to begin a searching and encompassing reevaluation of all our national policies regarding Islam and Islamic states.

But under Barack Obama, that is about as likely as the possibility that he will make his next speech from Jerusalem, proclaiming it Israel’s capital and calling upon the Palestinian Arabs to end their jihad.