Afghanistan is the Taliban is Afghanistan is the Taliban
It’s wonderful to have a loud-mouth liberal like Alan Grayson in Washington, along with all the loud-mouth neo-cons and mush-mouth Democrats, but whoever increases knowledge increases sorrow, and Alan Grayson’s grim analysis of Afghanistan is even grimmer than he thinks.
It’s not a country; it’s not even a place. It’s just an empty place on the map. It’s terra incognita. People who live there are a welter of different tribes, different language groups, different religious beliefs.
All over the country you find different people who have nothing to do with each other except for the fact that we call them Afghans, and they don’t even call themselves Afghans. They’re Tajiks or they’re Pashtuns, or they’re Hazzaras or someone else. The things that hold them together are simply the things that we try to create artificially.
With all due respect, which is actually a lot, I have to say that Rep. Grayson has been addled by world-tourism, and when you spend just a few days or weeks or even a few months in very foreign countries like Afghanistan, it’s easy to avoid understanding that you don’t understand anything at all, and only if you’re very, very lucky will you ever experience even one or two epiphanies of the obvious like a sudden realization that…
Afghanistan is the Taliban is Afghanistan is the Taliban.
Although the eternal tourist Alan Grayson (“I’ve been to 175 countries…”) was probably right about Afghanistan in that blessed era when the Durrani and Barakzai dynasties were still enthroned in Kabul, and only an occasional coronation united so many feudal war-lords at the very same place and time, that happy isolation and mutual ignorance ended after the Soviet invasion in 1979, and hundreds of thousands of refugees from tribes which had never even heard of each other were suddenly united in refugee camps in Pakistan.
There was a melting pot like no other in the history of “Afghanistan,” just a name on a map, or a series of names on a series of maps for thousands of years, but now a nation united for the first time in exile, Afghans and only Afghans, an enormous and almost undifferentiated mass deprived of all other identity except Afghanistan and Islam.
So the Russians went down under suicide insurgents with nothing to lose and American SAM’s, and for a while the old war-lords reimposed the old isolated order in their obsolescent fiefdoms, but now and only now Afghanistan existed, at first only as a national consciousness, an emergent property of enormous refugee camps in Pakistan, but in the pure and simple light of that primitive consciousness, the old war-lord order was only a charade, a community-theatre costume drama mercilessly exposed the morning after, and when the first and only national army of Afghanistan, the Taliban appeared, the old feudal order evaporated.
Bourgeois democracy wasn’t born in those stinking camps! If we wanted a bourgeois democracy in those stinking camps in Pakistan we could have bought them a bourgeois democracy with all the trimmings for half the price of a week of war!
But we wanted to pig out instead, in our great Reagan-era pig-out, and those same pigs are still running our country, and our senseless war in Afghanistan, which exists as a nation nowhere except where it began, in the minds of those miserable refugees in Pakistani camps, in the primitive Islam and primitive human connections of refugees, expressed with a blinding clarity by the Taliban.
Drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan?
You might just as well say…
Drive Afghanistan out of Afghanistan!
American pundits and generals will posture and predict for another few months or years, but our future in Afghanistan is exactly the same as Joan of Arc predicted for the English in France…
Tous les anglais seront chassés de la France, sauf ceux qui y mourront!
And mutatis mutandis my up-to-date translation is…
Every American will be driven out of Afghanistan, except those who die there.