In August 2021, America witnessed the greatest foreign policy disaster in modern times with the quick collapse of Afghanistan.
A number of catastrophic decisions were made by the Biden administration and each contributed to the disaster: announcing the withdrawal at the start of the Taliban fighting season, abandoning Bagram Air Base and releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners, providing no replacement for Theater Commander General Scott Miller, not warning American citizens and Afghan allies to leave in June and July, leaving around $85 billion in U.S. weaponry.
All those factors in the debacle have received publicity. One major factor that has remained in the shadows is nonetheless critical to what happened: The Biden administration continued the Obama agenda of pushing progressive ideology and this agenda hurt the credibility of the Afghan government and helped the Taliban. America engaged in “progressive colonization” against the will of the people of Afghanistan, and this has harmed us beyond measure. Let me explain.
First, I will define progressive colonization as attempts at pushing Western progressive values on a people with contrary conservative traditional values. To give a recent and overt example: On March 12, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin published a memorandum to senior Department of Defense leaders in which he directed them to promote the “cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world."
Austin went on to further specificity that “DoD Components shall: Strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct and expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct. Expand ongoing efforts to ensure regular DoD engagement with governments, citizens, civil society, and the private sector to promote respect for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons."
Austin further directed “By April 15, 2021, all DOD Components will ... recommend additional opportunities and actions to advance the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world."
What Lloyd Austin was ordering, in keeping with Joe Biden’s progressive agenda, was for combatant commanders to insist and demand foreign governments join the progressive movement with regard to homosexuality. This included places like Afghanistan, which holds these kinds of progressive values to be antithetical to their religion and culture. In many nations of the world, the people generally see homosexuality to be unnatural and sinful and harmful to society.
These same people are even more opposed to transexuality and gender confusion fostered by the progressive movement. In traditional Christian and Islamic and animistic cultures in Africa and Asia, homosexuality and transsexuality are viewed as contrary to the morality set forth in the holy books like the Bible and Quran. Further, these same cultures see the progressive hyper-feminist ideas to be disconcerting and confusing to how they want to live and raise families.
As a result of Austin’s directive, June “Pride month” was celebrated in Afghanistan in a very open and “in your face” manner not seen before 2021. The Pride flag was flown for the first time in Afghanistan, and this was as the Taliban were surging around the country while criticizing celebration of Pride month.
The Kabul Embassy issued the following statement with the picture of the Pride flag flying in Kabul: “The month of June is recognized as (LGTBTI) Pride Month. The United States respects the dignity and equality of LGBTI people & celebrates their contributions to society We remain committed to supporting the civil rights of (LGBTI persons).” Kabul University, which had started a gender and women’s studies program under pressure from the Obama administration) became much more open about it’s progressive ideology as the Taliban seized the nation.
The Taliban used the open support for homosexuality an ideological issue in swaying people in Afghanistan from the Afghan government. Afghanistan was under Islamic (Sharia) law, which included the death penalty for homosexuality. Though the Afghan government had not enforced laws against homosexuality since the Taliban fell from power in 2001, the constitution of Afghanistan proclaimed “no law will conflict with the sacred religion of Islam."
America’s progressive push openly flouted the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, while the Taliban reminded the people of the subversion of the law. As a comparison, and to show this was not primarily an issue of human rights to progressives: Conversion from Islam to another religion is also a death penalty offense under Islamic law and yet the Biden administration made no effort to voice or further Christian rights in Afghanistan.
Progressives hypocritically scream out against any perceived “colonization” by traditional Western values. In reality, progressives have made the greatest attempts at colonization in modern times. These attempts to colonize are attempts to cause other nations to mirror “progressive” society, in a similar way to colonists in the 18th and 19th centuries. They have brought failure and embarrassment to the United States in foreign affairs, which we saw with the Afghanistan debacle.
It’s time progressives show respect for traditional societies and stop attempting to colonize others at the expense of the United States. We can no longer afford it.
Bill Connor, a retired Army Infantry colonel, author and Orangeburg attorney, has deployed multiple times to the Middle East. Connor was the senior U.S. military adviser to Afghan forces in Helmand Province, where he received the Bronze Star. A Citadel graduate with a JD from USC, he is also a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army War College, earning his master of strategic studies. He is the author of the book "Articles from War.”