NATO summit and "shadow summit" both betray Afghan women

The typical equivocation from NATO at the Chicago summit—acting as if there were a firm 2014 deadline for a withdrawal despite Obama's deal for an extended US (at least) military presence in the country. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen went through the motions of calling the Taliban "terrorists" virtually in the same breath that he invoked negotiations with them. "I don't know whether the Taliban leadership is prepared to negotiate a solution, maybe not, I don't know, but I think we should give it a try, providing certain conditions," Rasmussen told reporters, without specifying those "conditions." So much for not negotiating with terrorists, but Western leaders have displayed such doublethink before. (Chicago Sun-Times, May 20)

Meanwhile, Amnesty International convened a "Shadow Summit" in Chicago, bringing together advocates for women's rights in Afghanistan. Women for Afghan Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation released a joint letter at the Shadow Summit warning against negotiations with the Taliban. The letter states, "the subjugation of women is not a sidebar, something that can be avoided through negotiations. It is the linchpin of Taliban strategy, having nothing to do with religion. The subjugation of half a country is the straightest path to subjugating the whole." (Ms Magazine, May 21)

Alas, Women for Afghan Women support the US/NATO military presence in Afghanistan. The Shadow Summit appears not to have included any representation from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), or its stateside voice the Afghan Women's Mission—which oppose both negotiations with the Taliban and the Western military occupation of the country.

In an April 28 statement recalling the coup d'etat on that day in 1978 that plunged Afghanistan into 14 years of war between a Soviet-backed regime and the Mujahedeen warlords whose successors still control the current US-backed Afghan government, RAWA stated:

Today the US and west are trying to broker reconciliation between