Like most people, I’m appalled by the Taliban‘s destruction of priceless Buddhist statuary. But as reprehensible as the Talbian’s willfull destruction of their Afghan history is, I’m sorry that this is what it took to bring the regime to the attention of the general public. The Taliban-led Afghan government is reportedly among the worst violators of human rights in the world. The State Department report has such cheerful factoids as: “Prison conditions are poor. Prisoners held by some factions are not given food, as normally this is the responsibility of prisoners’ relatives, who are allowed to visit to provide them with food once or twice a week” and “There were reports that Hindus are now required to wear a piece of yellow cloth attached to their clothing to identify their religious identity; Sikhs reportedly were required to wear some form of identification as well." This quote has a particular bonechilling lack of affect:

"In Kabul and elsewhere women found in public who were not wearing the burqa, or whose burqas did not properly cover their ankles, were beaten by Taliban militiamen. Some poor women cannot afford the cost of a burqa, and thus are forced to remain at home or risk beatings if they go out without one…In its survey, PHR found that 22 percent of the respondents reported being detained and abused by the Taliban; of these incidents, 72 percent were related to alleged infractions of the Taliban’s dress code for women. Most of these incidents reportedly resulted in detentions that lasted 1 hour or less, but 84 percent also resulted in public beatings and 2 percent resulted in torture."

Unfortunately, there’s very little the international community could do, even if it wanted to. Afghanistan is already an international pariah. Their economy is basically defunct, so sanctions won’t work. Their infrastructure is basically non-existant, so "surgical strikes" would be pointless. And this is Afghanistan, the country that threw out the British (repeatedly) and, aided by US weapons, beat the Russian Army into retreat, so even if there weren’t moral objections to an invasion based on human rights abuses, there’s no chance that any international community would muster the political will to do it. It’s an awful thing, and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done. The statues have made more people aware that there’s an awful thing going on; I only wish I thought things were going to get better for the Afghan people as a whole.