Western leaders taking cues on oppression from the Taliban

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — By now you’ve probably heard that the Taliban — fighters whose battle fatigues look like those of neo-hippies on campus at the University of California, Berkeley — are on the verge of being back in charge in Afghanistan. All thanks to the failed programs funded by Western taxpayers that were apparently more like Ponzi schemes. How else could one characterize what the U.S. Defense Department estimated as $815.7 billion spent to stabilize the country and develop its institutions when the result is the NATO-trained Afghan army collapsing like it was ordered from an online cheap goods store?

If you can’t create a democracy in Afghanistan after 20 years and hundreds of billions of dollars, then you aren’t ever going to. But where exactly did all the money go?

The internet provides some clues. As American and NATO allied troops evacuate ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Sept. 11 withdrawal date, images have shown Taliban fighters sliding their flip-flop-clad tootsies into some heavy artillery co-opted from the NATO-trained Afghan army, whose sub-commanders were bought off by the Taliban as soon as the training wheels came off.

But that’s not all. Because this is apparently like the Showcase Showdown on “The Price Is Right,” where the winners played so well that they get to take home the prizes of all the players.

When NATO troops abandoned the Bagram Air Base earlier this year, ceding it to the Afghan army protégés whom they had spent the better part of two decades training, images quickly appeared online of the Taliban commandeering some nice, shiny gym equipment on that military base. Ah, the spoils of war. Hey, look at that Taliban guy cranking out reps on that state-of-the-art chest press! Check out the dude in the long robe and sandals with socks on the stationary bike!

The idea of the Taliban being back in power is enough to make a lot of people who made personal sacrifices in this war irate. But they see the straw in their neighbor’s eye rather than the beam in their own, as the biblical saying goes.

Apparently the Taliban are less militant than our own sanitary ayatollahs here in the West — at least in the gym. They didn’t even have to sign up for a time slot, apply hand sanitizer and wear masks.

Judging by the lack of social distancing and other Covid-era behaviors in the Taliban gym videos, it’s hard to imagine that they would impose strict sanitary measures on the population the way our leaders have here in the West.

“But they’ll probably oppress and kill people with whom they don’t agree!” you might be saying. Perhaps. But we’re living in countries where leaders are increasingly using the COVID-19 pandemic pretext to force people to take an experimental injection or risk losing their livelihood — contrary to the principles of personal autonomy and free will.

We in Paris have spent the past 17 months being placed periodically on house arrest for our own “good,” being forced to wear cloth over our faces for fear of government-imposed punishment, having our movement controlled, and now being segregated and marginalized if our personal choices don’t align with those of our rulers. Moreover, when some people speak out against such oppression, they’re either censored or targeted by institutions or authorities promoting the government’s official narrative.

And now we’re seeing the leaders of our so-called democracies introducing increasingly intrusive monitoring through digital technology such as smartphone applications and QR codes, all under the pretext of ensuring adherence to the government’s chosen ideology of sanitary purity.

Those among us who have been relieved of critical thought after being bombarded with fear-driven propaganda now cry out for punishment when a Western woman whips off her symbolically oppressive mask in her local grocery store, proclaims her emancipation from the sanitary regime, or rejects the imposition of a medical act like an injection by claiming, “My body, my choice.”

Indeed, the women of Afghanistan are going to have to contend with the Taliban’s return to power. But since the pandemic, the governments of allegedly free and democratic countries are not really in a position to be giving lessons on liberty to the Taliban or to anyone else. Our governments don’t get to claim moral authority regarding oppression when they’re increasingly responsible for perpetrating it themselves.