America witnessed the greatest foreign policy disaster in modern times in August 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, and leaving behind about $85 billion in U.S. weaponry.
All those factors in the debacle have received publicity but one major factor has remained in the shadows: America engaged in “progressive colonization” against the will of the people of Afghanistan.
The Biden administration continued the Obama agenda of pushing a progressive ideology in Afghanistan, which hurt the credibility of the Afghan government and made an opening for the Taliban.
Progressive colonization is defined 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 III 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 specify 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 Austin was ordering, in keeping with Biden’s progressive agenda, was for combatant commanders to insist and demand foreign governments join the progressive movement with regards to homosexuality. This included in places like Afghanistan where progressive values are antithetical to the local religion and culture. In many nations of the world, people generally see homosexuality to be unnatural, sinful, and harmful to society. These same people are even more opposed to transsexuality and gender confusion fostered by the progressive movement. In traditional Christian, Islamic and Animistic cultures in Africa and Asia, homosexuality and transsexuality are viewed as contrary to the morality set forth in the holy books.
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 as the Taliban was surging around the country criticizing it.
The now-defunct U.S. Embassy in Kabul 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).”
Afghanistan was under Islamic (Sharia) law, which unfortunately included the death penalty for homosexuality. Thankfully, the Afghan government had not enforced laws against homosexuality since the Taliban fell from power in 2001, but this doesn't change the legal prohibition.
America’s progressive push openly flouted the laws and Constitution of Afghanistan, while the Taliban reminded the people of the subversion of the law. The Taliban used the open support for homosexuality as an ideological issue in swaying people in Afghanistan from the Afghan government.
And the support for LGBT rights in Afghanistan by the progressive Biden admin wasn't primarily an issue of human rights, or else they would have also spoken up about the death penalty for conversion from Islam to another religion. But the Biden admin made no effort to voice support for the rights of religious minorities in Afghanistan.
Progressives hypocritically rail against any perceived colonization by traditional Western values but have themselves made the greatest attempt in modern times to colonize other nations with their progressive values. They have brought failure and embarrassment to the United States in foreign affairs as seen in Afghanistan. It’s time to stop progressive colonization.
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.