Introduction

Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 2023 (203):3-9 (2023)
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Abstract

ExcerptOne of the most disappointing human rights debacles in the last few years was the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. For those who still take an interest,1 the human rights situation there has become horrendous, with Human Rights Watch documenting the denial of schooling and employment to women, extrajudicial killings, and torture.2 Moreover, in a severe rebuttal to those who supported the withdrawal, Taliban rule has created the conditions for a renewal of terrorist groups that can now develop and train in Afghanistan with impunity.3 There is also a good case to be made that the U.S. withdrawal there emboldened Putin to invade Ukraine, calculating that the United States and its allies no longer have the stomach for protracted conflicts in order to prevent human rights abuses. It may be that we have traded a low-grade conflict in Afghanistan for a high-intensity one in Ukraine.4 The lesson here is that the struggle for human rights, while beginning as a moral problem about our common responsibilities, can only be taken seriously when we consider its political ramifications. What do we owe to our fellow humans, and what sacrifices should we make in order to fulfill those responsibilities?

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