Rambling impressions on 20 years of Afghanistan coverage, part 1 of 3

It is a signal of the realism of the situation that the post 9/11 insta-expertise from the nation of armchair generals sided against any major Afghan project. I have a Rudyard Kipling quotation for you about how if you find yourself fighting in Afghanistan, just go ahead and shoot yourself. I have a quick study pointing to a golden age for Afghanistan for the early 1970s, under the stewardship of a progressive minded king, and we have the name of a popular female singer to throw out. We have cold water tossed on the notion in explaining that this progressive minded king was always having to make realpolitik compromises with a host of noxious warlords in control of much or most of the land. We have the quotation from Brzenski for everyone who wants to give equal blame on the US as against the Soviet Union on the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and a movie about Representative Charles Wilson from Texas.

Through the summer of 2001 there is a cutesy story about the last two remaining Afghan Jews being at war with each other, a contentious fight over a couple Christian missionaries, and a repeating destruction of Ancient Buddha artifacts by the hands of the Taliban.

An d toss in a John Quincy Adams quote about not looking for monsters to destroy, as a couple small voices in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 — seen, yes, on CNN, suggest room between al Qaeda and the Taliban, some gradations of needing to respect an objectively awful political entity — a voice of warning due to the moral troubles and equivocations to come.

But the bulk of the post 9/11 insta- Afghanistan armchair experts were holding their hats on hawkish Wilsonian rhetoric — Man yearns to be free, Democracy crushes the Tyranny. Immediate designs to carpet bomb in that general direction are reformed into a notion of world Transformation. Enter a new story on female Olympic athlete — the one person competing head respectfully covered. Laura Bush coos, as she did at the election of some dude named Hamid Karzai… Who was — who? Surely the Afghanistan in star experts knew all about him. The great news — surely that weird entity featured in Pacifica Radio and KBOO land, the “Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan” — totally relevant to internal Afghanistan politics — are cooing with First Lady Bush as the Taliban recedes and an Olympic athlete is not in a burqa.

The number one cash crop — Heroin — poppyseeds– the sustenance of America’s erstwhile ally. We learn about a cultural practice of buggering little boys, there is a name for it, from the province of deeply religious Muslims who are fervently anti-gay. Somewhere in this we get word that one way to popular support from the Taliban is opposition to such — both drug and paedophilic practices. Except if they aren’t.

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