Everything you always wanted to know about Afghanistan that one lone humorist could tell you after a 72-hour visit [updated]
What do you want to know about Afghanistan, past, present, or future? After a 72-hour visit, PJ O'Rourke has everything you always wanted to know about Afghanistan, but didn't want to have to wade through WikiLeaks to discover.
It's far from as flippant as you'd expect from an article about the Afghanistan war containing quips about what Scotsmen wear under their kilts.
Take this, for example, explaining both the continuing appeal of the Taliban, and the mire in which well-meaning armies have found themselves.
Someone in Afghanistan must think the Taliban on the other side are good for something too. Otherwise there wouldn’t be an “Afghan issue.”
The Taliban offers bad law—chopping off hands, stoning desperate housewives, the usual things. Perhaps you have to live in a place that has had no law for a long time—since the Soviets invaded 31 years ago—before you welcome bad law as an improvement.
An Afghan civil society activist, whose work has put him under threat from the Taliban, admitted, “People picked Taliban as the lesser of evils.” He explained that lesser of evils with one word, “stability.”
A woman member of the Afghan parliament said that it was simply a fact that the Taliban insurgency was strongest “where the government is not providing services.” Rule of law being the first service a government must provide.
The member of parliament who laughed at the clash of civilizations laughed as well at what had passed for rule of law in Afghanistan. “Sure Afghanistan is unruly,” he said. “Afghans don’t like rules. No one likes rules. And that is what we have been—ruled. We have been ruled, not governed.”
A journalist for Radio Azadi said, “Afghans were happy in principle that Americans brought peace and democracy. But when rival tribes began to use the U.S. to crush each other, the attitude of the Afghan people changed.”
Afghans think Americans have sided with the wrong people. It’s not that Afghans think Americans have sided with the wrong people in a systematic, strategic, or calculated way. It’s just that we came to a place that we didn’t know much about, where there are a lot of sides to be on, and we started siding with this side and that side and the other side. We were bound to wind up on the wrong side sometimes.
We’re outsiders in Afghanistan, and this is Occam’s razor for explaining the Taliban…
Read it all here: The 72-hour expert: Everything you always wanted to know about Afghanistan, by PJ O’Rourke.
Australian aid to Pakistani flood victims is being distributed at a camp funded by the banned Pakistani group Jamaat ud Dawa. The group was linked to the Mumbai terrorist attacks and has been black listed by the US, Pakistan and the United Nations.
But, the UN World Food Programme is distributing aid, including some donated from Australia, at a camp which receives funding from Jamaat ud-Dawa.
As Andrew Bolt observes, it’s not just an explanation “why donations from the West are slow” but also “more proof that the UN can’t be trusted with our cash, either.”