“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it.” So lamented Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr., reports the New York Times, about young boys being sexually abused by Afghan allies on his own military base. Buckley had made the startling revelation to his father, Gregory Buckley Sr., prior to being shot to death in 2012 — by an abused boy who, the elder Buckley and others suspect, viewed the Americans as complicit in his rape.
And while Rudyard Kipling said of East and West, “Never the twain shall meet,” Eastern and Western moral corruption is a different story. As Buckley Sr. also related, when he counseled that the abuse should be reported to superiors, his son informed him “that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.” The Times provides more details, writing:
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.
... Soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.
“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.”
And soldiers who don’t “respect” these “cultural differences” pay a price for having a conscience. Captain Quinn, a Green Beret, was relieved of his command and removed from Afghanistan after administering his informal justice; he subsequently left the military. Sergeant First Class Charles Martland, a decorated Green Beret with 11 years’ service who joined Quinn in roughing up the rapist, has been discharged from the Army and has just had his appeal of the decision denied. And a Marine, Major Jason Brezler, who sent an e-mail warning other officers about another pederast commander, has had discharge proceedings initiated against him.
For its part, the Pentagon denies the existence of an “official” policy mandating that soldiers must ignore child sexual abuse. But as the Times also reports, the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan, Colonel Brian Tribus, wrote in an e-mail, "Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law." And as Quinn affirmed, writes CNN, "The reason we weren't able to step in with these local rape cases was we didn't want to undermine the authority of the local government.... We were trying to build up the local government. Us acting after the local government fails to can certainly undermine their credibility."
The problem is that Afghan local governments have no credibility because the failure in justice is by design. For example, Quinn related stories about a commander who stole his men’s wages and spent them on dancing boys, and another commander who committed an “honor killing” of his 12-year-old daughter because she kissed a boy. Quinn says that these criminals were not held accountable. Then there was the commander who actually was taken to task after raping a 14- or 15-year-old girl.
He received one day in jail.
And then the girl was forced to marry him.
As for the details of the informal justice meted out by Quinn and Martland, it involved a commander, Abdul Rahman, who had abducted a boy and pressed him into sexual slavery. When the boy’s mother came looking for him, she was beaten. After her son was later released, she went to an American military base with him — he was limping and she was visibly bruised — to report the crime; she said that because the boy was such a “good-looking kid,” he was a status symbol and could be targeted again. Quinn confronted Rahman, who admitted what he’d done but brushed it off with a laugh. This prompted Quinn and Martland to rough the commander up as a warning, an incident that, confirmed an Afghan official who saw Rahman right afterwards, caused no serious injuries.
As for Brezler, he got in trouble for blowing the whistle in 2012 on a serial pederast police commander named Sarwar Jan. Brezler was one of a handful of officers who persuaded Afghan police to arrest Jan two years earlier, “following a litany of abuses, including corruption, support for the Taliban and child abduction,” reports the Times. But in 2012 Jan was back in action, with a unit at Lance Corporal Buckley’s post, Forward Operating Base Delhi, in Helmand Province. And with him was a large group of “tea boys,” domestic servants who, as you might imagine, are used for more than just serving tea.
It was an older boy among them who grabbed a gun and shot Buckley, along with two other Marines. Buckley’s father believes that the tolerance of the sexual abuse led to his son’s death, and he has filed a lawsuit against the Marine Corps in an effort to get more information. Explained Buckley Sr., “As far as the young boys are concerned, the Marines are allowing it to happen and so they’re guilty by association.... They don’t know our Marines are sick to their stomachs.”
Meanwhile, Jan has apparently moved on to an even higher command post; Rahman’s career path was interrupted only because he was killed in a Taliban ambush two years ago, and good men such as Sgt. Martland are being drummed out of the military.
When pondering this, a G.K. Chesterton quotation comes to mind: “Moral issues are always complex matters for people who have no principles.” Make no mistake, this tolerance of evil was wrought by Western relativism, pushed for decades by those seeking to justify what our great-grandparents called sins, until modern man’s judgment was so corrupted that he’d turn a blind eye to the screams of children.
Yet there’s hypocrisy here as well. While the “it’s their culture” line was used to justify pederasty, isn’t the subordination of women also part of Islamic culture? Nonetheless, the West hasn’t shrunk from insisting that new Afghan and Iraqi governments recognize women’s rights (not to mention Obama’s pushing of a counter-cultural homosexual agenda in Africa). In fact, the Taliban’s treatment of women was often cited as a reason for our military intervention, as if a feminist crusade could justify spilling blood. So it seems that multiculturalism too is negotiable — among those who’d rather lose their souls than their careers.
Photo of U.S. soldier with Afghan boys: AP Images