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Ignoring Child Abuse in Afghanistan: We Sent Our Troops to Fight for This?

Last autumn, Marine Corps Major Jason C. Brezler got into trouble for sending classified email via an unclassified email server. But the principle source of his trouble had nothing to do with email servers or even classified documents—it was the subject of those emails: child sexual abuse by our so-called “allies” in Afghanistan.

A year ago, I told you about a disturbing story in the New York Times whose headline read, “U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies.” BreakPoint listeners learned about the ancient Central Asian phenomenon known as “bacha bazi,” which means “boy play.” The form of sexual abuse was the subject of the 2010 PBS documentary, “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan.”

As I noted, “since the early 20th century there have been several attempts to outlaw the practice, but with one notable exception, these have met with limited success. The exception was the Islamist Taliban, which made the practice punishable by death. Their success in eradicating the practice was part of the reason that ordinary Afghans supported, at least initially, the Taliban’s coming to power.”

The ouster of the Taliban meant open season on young boys, which is horrendous enough. But making matters even worse, the United States, as the Times reported, is turning a blind eye to this abuse out of fear of offending our “allies.”

Which brings me back to Major Brezler. According to the Washington Post, Brezler was “asked by Marine colleagues to submit all the information he had about an influential Afghan police chief suspected of abusing children.”

Unfortunately, he sent the email via an unclassified server, an infraction which he self-reported. Despite his coming clean, the Marine Corps recommended that he be discharged. The Department of the Navy agreed with this recommendation.

But it’s why they upheld the recommendation that should trouble us. According to the Washington Post, “Navy officials also assessed that holding new hearings on the case would renew attention on the scandal surrounding child sex abuse in Afghanistan.”

The document setting forth the decision, known as a “legal review,” concluded that “calling for a new administrative review, known as a Board of Inquiry, would delay actions in the case another six to nine months and possibly increase attention on the case, ‘especially in the aftermath of significant media attention to the allegations regarding the practice of keeping personal sex slaves in Afghanistan.’”

If that sounds a bit too much like a cover-up to you, you’re not alone. Brezler has filed suit against the Navy seeking review of the decision to discharge him. And he has at least one powerful political ally, Representative Duncan Hunter of California.

A spokesman for Hunter, who successfully intervened on behalf of an Army Sergeant who was dismissed for slugging another Afghan police officer who sexually abused boys, told the Post that “The Brezler case is no different in that, at its foundation, there’s a corrupt Afghan commander that exploits children. It’s something that Americans won’t tolerate.”

What I said last September still holds; the policy of protecting child rapists is not only morally reprehensible, it’s counterproductive: It gives ordinary Afghans a reason to view Taliban rule as “the good old days.”

Is this what more than 2,300 Americans gave their lives to protect? Have more than 20,000 Americans been wounded to make the world safe for bacha bazi?

As the Apostle Paul liked to say, “God forbid!”

Which, by the way, He does.


BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Publication date: September 15, 2016

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