Sunday, July 25, 2010

Army Social Scientist Attacked

Posted by Chris at 11/7/2008 9:59 AM ...

Please join me in sending my best wishes to Paula Loyd, a human terrain team member who was set on fire by a member of the Taliban when she asked him a question about gas prices. His response was to douse her with fuel from his jug and set her alight, a common Taliban punishment for women they consider insufficiently modest.

While I'm an advocate of both women in combat and of the use of civilians in Human Terrain Teams, this third casualty among the social scientists does raise important questions. First, and most obvious, is the role of female social scientists in dealing with unknown individuals in Afghanistan given the nature of this attack. Loyd's assailant displayed no hostile intent until he attacked. The question is whether this is a reasonable level of risk for these valuable team members?

The other question is whether peace is possible with such men? Both the idealist and pragmatist in me argue that there is some common ground, and the cosmopolitan in me says we shouldn't impose our standards on other cultures. Not that setting women on fire because dare speak in public is a standard that deserves any protection.

I'm afraid that this one has penetrated my rational facade, and I really don't have much useful to add at this point.


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