Even as a child I knew to pick my friends wisely.
The U.S., being more eager to make friends, makes allies of countries that embrace cultural norms Americans find criminal.
The New York Times reports U.S. Marines in Afghanistan must tolerate the sexual abuse of boys by Afghan military leaders.
According to the article, sexual abuse of children by armed military leaders is "rampant."
Afghans call it "bacha bazi," literally "boy play."
"At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it," one Marine told his father.
Child rape is alleged at U.S. military bases, according to court documents, but American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene.
Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain (and not the Falcons coach), beat up an Afghan commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. He was relieved of his command and shipped out of the country. The Army is currently trying to forcibly retire Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, who helped Quinn confront the Afghan leader.
The policy of the U.S. military is that allegations of child rape are "a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law."
"The American policy of nonintervention is intended to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militia units the United States has trained to fight the Taliban," writes The New York Times, adding that powerful Afghan men often surround themselves with young teenagers to highlight their social status.
It's not just boys.
In 2011, Quinn and Martland investigated the claims of Afghan residents who said military commanders raped a 14-year-old girl in a field. The matter was turned over to a local police chief, who punished the victim by making her marry her abuser.
Another Afghan military commander stole the money used to pay his troops and spent it on "dancing boys."
Another murdered his 12-year-old daughter for kissing a boy. There were no repercussions for the "honor killing."
The U.S. spends more in Afghanistan than any other country -- about $13 billion in 2012. The other 185 countries the U.S. sent aid to in 2012 split about $30 billion.
That sounds like a lot of money. But it's just a drop in the bucket, really.
Since 2002, U.S. taxpayers have sent $100 billion to Afghanistan solely for non-military aid.
Despite spending more in Afghanistan than the U.S. has ever spent to rebuild any other country, “all of that has not brought the United States or Afghanistan a single sustainable institution or program” says The Journal of World Affairs .
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, another strong U.S. ally, a teen will be executed by crucifixion for protesting a government that sentenced his uncle to death by crucifixion for "insulting the king" of that oil-rich land.
Sometimes it seems our allies treat their citizens worse than our enemies.