US soldiers disciplined for stopping rape of children by Afghan police

My father, who saw some pretty terrible sights during World War 2, used to frequently tell me that bad things happen in war, but I don’t think he ever ran into anything like this. A story breaking over the weekend reveals that our “Afghan allies” have been engaged in a sick practice referred to as “boy play” in the common parlance. This essentially translates into abducting, imprisoning and raping young boys, keeping them as sex slaves. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, it’s apparently been standing policy for some time now that US soldiers were told to turn a blind eye to the practice (even when it takes place on our bases) and some of them have even been disciplined and removed from the service for trying to intervene. (New York Times)

“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”

The policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.

After the beating, the Army relieved Captain Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He has since left the military.

In addition to Quinn having his career destroyed, the Army is now trying to drum Green Beret Sgt. First Class Charles Martland out of the service for assisting Quinn in handing a beatdown to the pedophile. And our own military admits that this wasn’t just a case of a few bad apples, but formal policy for troops serving in Afghanistan. I find myself nearly at a loss for words here. Weren’t we supposed to be the good guys?

The Army was asked for comment and gave what can only be described as one of the most disappointing answers imaginable.

When asked about American military policy, the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Col. Brian Tribus, wrote in an email: “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law.” He added that “there would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.” An exception, he said, is when rape is being used as a weapon of war.

The American policy of nonintervention is intended to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militia units the United States has trained to fight the Taliban. It also reflects a reluctance to impose cultural values in a country where pederasty is rife, particularly among powerful men, for whom being surrounded by young teenagers can be a mark of social status.

There’s a few things we need to know here. How long as this been our “official policy” vis a vis chaining young boys to beds and sodomizing them on a US military base? Who instituted this policy and how far up the chain did it go? And please do note that this isn’t some sort of partisan, Left vs Right, Democrat vs Republican question here. We’ve been in Afghanistan for a long time and the policy may well date back to the Bush administration. (Though even if it does, the weight still falls on the current administration for not stopping it.) Or did it come strictly from inside the military without anyone “bothering” the civilian leadership over it?

To be fair, we probably shouldn’t be all that shocked to uncover what the Afghan officials were up to. The Brits have been dealing with problems along these lines for some time now and heard many complaints about immigrants from both Afghanistan and Pakistan when it comes to their particular predilections. It’s apparently woven into the culture.

Honoring “cultural differences” can be a tricky line to walk when we’re dealing with foreign nations and their unique cultures and traditions, often to the point of rankling American sensibilities. We’ve seen more than a few cases where female US envoys have donned a head scarf to avoid ruffling the feathers of Arab allies, just as one example. But this is something entirely different. When you find a young boy chained to a bed so the local police chief can brutalize him every night, you put a stop to that.. with the butt of a rifle if need be. And we certainly don’t turn around and end an officer’s career for trying to put a stop to rape and child torture. Someone has to answer for this.