U.S. Marines preparing to go overseas are given a detailed training session about the Marine Corps’ own rules against sexual assault. But they are offered practically no guidance on what to do if they witness rape and other sexual abuses by “local nationals” in other countries, including Afghanistan, where child rape is common.
A 45-minute scripted presentation given to Marines as part of their pre-deployment process doesn’t say that they shouldn’t report sexual assaults in the countries where they’re serving. But it explains that laws and norms about sexual relations vary from country to country, and that in Afghanistan in particular, sexual assault is a “cultural” issue, and not a purely legal one.
The Daily Beast obtained a copy of the script for the training session, which includes a set of PowerPoint slides and instructions about what those leading the session are supposed to say on sexual abuse in other countries. The training guide supports allegations by Marines and Army soldiers in recent days that they’ve been told not to intervene to prevent sexual assault in Afghanistan, including the rape and sexual enslavement of children on U.S. bases. Senior military officials, including the general in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, have been forced to respond to what critics say is a policy of remaining silent in the face of crimes committed by Afghan officials trained and supported by the U.S., crimes that would send American service members to prison.
This is sickening on many levels (although, given the bent of the Obama administration, hardly surprising), but let’s content ourselves with just one for now. You cannot win a war if your culture’s moral values are not deemed superior to those of your enemies. We did not order the armed forces to consider the Nazis’ animosity toward European Jewry or the Japanese’s loathing of the Chinese as inferiors to color our strategy and tactics against them. Instead, we just killed them, as many as we could, until they finally stopped fighting.
One reason for the foolish wars in the dark and savage lands of the Middle East and in Afghanistan is that we refuse to assert Western cultural superiority. So why should they change? And if they don’t change, how can we win? Which leads to a more important question: do we even want to?