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Afghanistan and the Ghost of Kipling’s ‘Kim’

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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-13-06 01:38 AM
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Afghanistan and the Ghost of Kipling’s ‘Kim’
----snip----

Speaking in Kandahar, not all that far from England’s old colonial fortress at Quetta, he announced, “I have the force, the rules of engagement, and the caveat-free environment to do everything I need.”

One wonders what Greek commander in Alexander’s army made that same speech, what Soviet general thought he also had “the force” and a “caveat-free environment” to do as he pleased.

In truth, General Richards holds exactly the ground he stands on—so long as it isn’t nightfall. After four years of war, the United States-led coalition is scrambling to contain a spreading insurgency, not only in the south, but the north and the east as well. In late May, Taliban insurgents overran a district capital in Oruzgan Province, and according to the Financial Times, a government presence doesn’t exist outside the Helmand Province capital of Lashkar Gar. Two weeks ago Kabul exploded, with tens of thousands of people stoning American military vehicles and chanting for foreign troops to leave.

This ground and history is familiar for the British. It will be, after all, England’s fourth war in Afghanistan.

The first (1838 –42) was ignited when the Brits forcibly installed Shah Shujah as the Afghan king. That went rather badly, and riots finally forced the British out of Kabul in 1842. As the army was retreating to India, it was ambushed, overrun and destroyed. The war ended when the English marched back, ravaged Kabul, burned the great bazaar, and killed 20,000 Afghans.

http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/article.cfm?issue=06...
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ConsAreLiars Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-13-06 02:33 AM
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1. This is so sad.
The people of Afghanistan would/could find their own way, but they have been invaded time after time. Yet they continue to "be." I once met a tribal Pashtun who, by unfortunate chance, spoke English. (His family had been murdered, he got adopted by an English diplomat and got an education in England) He was still absolutely loyal to his family, his clan, his tribe, his language group, his religious sect. And utterly opposed to those who would attack them, in that order. Nearly all of the country lives in tiny villages, like he did, and domination of the very few urban centers means nothing at all. whoever is named "president" or "king" or whatever of the country, especially when installed by a foreign power, means nothing.

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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-13-06 03:11 AM
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2. The graves of countless British and Soviet troops attest to their tenacity
They don't take kindly to strangers who come to impose on them and exploit them. As an ethnic Vietnamese, I can plainly understand why.
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-13-06 03:12 AM
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3. Well, there you have it
“The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character.”

In short, if insurgents are mixed up with civilians, you can’t call in air strikes, period. Anyone who does should be hauled before the International Court at The Hague.
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The Straight Story Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-13-06 11:17 PM
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4. Indeed. Paging bush, paging bush, you have a cell waiting...
I wish.
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