Don’t Criticize the Taliban!

The Wall Street Journal obtained a copy of a new Army handbook for soldiers destined for Afghanistan. The draft handbook has not yet been put into use, but is described as a “final coordinating draft” that was sent out for review in November. The manual instructs soldiers on how to get along with their counterparts in the Afghan Army. It reflects the view, held by some officers but generally deemed highly controversial, that increasing numbers of attacks on American troops by supposedly friendly Afghan soldiers are the result of cultural conflicts, rather than Taliban infiltration.

Some of the manual’s recommendations are ludicrous:

The draft handbook offers a list of “taboo conversation topics” that soldiers should avoid, including “making derogatory comments about the Taliban,” “advocating women’s rights,” “any criticism of pedophilia,” “directing any criticism towards Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam.”

This list of “taboo” topics paints an unintentionally revealing picture of Afghanistan and our supposed allies there: the Taliban, pedophilia, homosexuality, women’s rights, or “anything related to Islam.” All in the name of cultural sensitivity! The manual also warns against negative stereotypes of the Afghans:

A summary includes views of some U.S. soldiers that Afghan forces engage in thievery, are “gutless in combat,” are “basically stupid,” “profoundly dishonest,” and engage in “treasonous collusion and alliances with enemy forces.”

Speaking for myself, I’ve heard about enough.

The new manual evidently reflects a conflict within the armed forces. While it has not yet been finalized, and our senior commander in Afghanistan, Marine General John Allen, says he will not approve it, the handbook reflects and partially incorporates a 2011 report titled “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility,” which some in the Army said was characterized by “unprofessional rhetoric and sensationalism.” There evidently is faction within the Army that wants to blame our own soldiers’ lack of sensitivity for the fact that they are being murdered in increasing numbers by members of the Afghan armed forces.

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