In another undiscussed, thoughtfulness, devastating blow – President Biden not only left Americans and allies to die in Afghanistan but devastated millions of little girls, erased any chance for a formal education, reduced them again to property, and destroyed their hope.
Between 2001 and 2020, the life of girls across Afghanistan – and women – changed 180 degrees. Prior to 2001’s destruction of Taliban rule, one million boys got educated, less than 5000 girls.
By 2016, 10 times that number of children were being educated – a process that, until this fall, was on track to continue, bringing everything from math, science, literature, and history to young, hopeful Afghan children. This was the real movement slowly changing that nation.
Of more than nine million, “an estimated 39 percent” were girls. Roughly 32 times the number of kids were graduating from secondary schools in 2015 than in 2001. USAID recorded almost 22 times as many university enrollments. See, e.g., Education in Afghanistan; Women’s Education: Afghanistan’s Biggest Success Story Now at Risk.
Although all levels of education were regionally low – for both genders – the numbers continued to rise. Cultural pressures pushed against girls’ education, but long-term projections were hopeful. And the word was getting out – this was a nation-changer. See, e.g., “I Won’t Be a Doctor, and One Day You’ll Be Sick”.
As more young Afghans graduated, and as girls grew into women and took top posts in communities, business, education, government, things were changing. Virtually any women’s rights group, education-related non-government organization (NGO), or tracker corroborated this vital trendline – until August 31, 2021.
On that day, Mr. Biden shocked the system, literally devastating more than 10 million young Afghans, throwing at least four million girls permanently out of the educational system. See, e.g., The U.S. Is Leaving Afghanistan, the Taliban Is Growing in Power, and Education for Girls and Women Is Already at Risk.
When announcements are made by the Taliban, repeated by the Biden team and liberal US media, saying the Afghan public educational system has restarted – do not believe it. See, e.g., Afghanistan: Girls excluded as Afghan secondary schools reopen; Taliban say Afghan boys’ schools to reopen, no mention of girls.
Restarted are the 2001 process of religious education, minimal training for boys, and zero education for girls. For many, their educations are now effectively over unless they escape. For many, their lives are being sold into child-bride status to terrorists. Thank you, Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden’s precipitous, non-conditional, give-it-all-away, run to exit – was the opposite of Mr. Trump’s insistence on continued education for girls in a peace deal, followed by conditional withdrawal, with credible enforcement by a credible Afghan government.
The sadness of this is almost too much, as it was entirely avoidable. Biden need only have continued Trump’s robust, conditional peace process, kept US troops at Bagram, maintained security at forward operating locations, kept control of tens of billions of sophisticated communications, combat, and transportation equipment, moved to integrate the Afghan government fully into the process – while continuing to educate girls.
If that course had been taken, instead of the unforgivable, unplanned, disgraceful scamper from terrorist threats – for misconceived political advantage – millions of Afghan girls would still be in school, learning, hoping, aspiring, lives filled with hope, not unthinkable misery and pain.
The magnitude of this miscalculation – not being discussed anywhere – is breathtaking. The enormity of the misery that Mr. Biden and his feckless, uncaring, untruthful team has imposed on these girls in one fell swoop – should cause every American, liberal and conservative, old and young, rich and poor, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim to stop – and ask, “How could you do this?”
This is a humanitarian crisis occurring at this very moment. The agony will increase as time passes, as lives are taken away, stripped of their young dignity and hoped-for destiny. Again, thank you, Mr. Biden.
If the plight of young people, young girls especially, mattered anywhere – it mattered where their education could change the future for generations by just sticking with them, working to assure that we did not step away until they were on solid ground and protected. Biden did not do that.
Instead, like abandoning Americans and allies, Biden and his thoughtless team abandoned these girls – by the millions – to a fate that is sad, somber, but incontrovertible. What was, is no more.
So, where is the accountability, outrage from left, right, and middle? Where are reporters by herds seeking answers, making the point, or Hollywood saying, “Do not let this happen!”
Where are millions of US teachers, many women, and teachers’ unions who ostensibly care about children and who speak for causes from education to women’s rights?
Answer: Silent, as they were prior to the August 31 travesty, the Big Betrayal – of Americans, of Girls, Women, Education, Hope – on an unprecedented scale. None of it had to go this way. Mr. Biden’s indifference made it so.
In a country where four in ten citizens are under 15, and four in ten of those were girls in school, this development was changing everything. Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump knew it, knew it mattered, stayed to assure it happened, with security and governance. A third of all teachers were women; another reality suddenly ended. See, e.g., Education in Afghanistan; List of schools in Afghanistan.
That is all over now. The Taliban are back – no education for girls. I hate to deliver bad news, hate it more when reversing it seems hard, but some acts are indefensible, must be understood. Yes, brave souls will keep hoping, pressing, trying for leverage, speaking – willing to die. But that is not where we were, or should be now.
Objectively, on top of all the rest of this mess, Biden and his foreign policy team committed an act of genuine repugnance, of deceit and reproach, replacing hope with horror for Afghanistan’s girls. When will the press hold Biden accountable – or will we pivot away again, content to be indifferent? Biden destroyed hope for millions of girls – someone should say so.
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