Parallax View - Afghan Wigs, Western Vals

    Observing our Petri dish would be better if we didn't keep sticking our thumbs in it to draw conclusions. Some more primitive societies might just indeed be more comfortable being primitive societies, even if there's some Brownian Motion or other movement of progressive thought within the culture.
    I guess bringing the cannibals to Jesus is a noble sentiment in some way, but some peoples are not quite ripe for democracy or market economies or whatever it is this should all evolve into. Odd that we barely gave a shit about the 5 year war around 2000 in the Congo that killed 5 million, except to wail about the horrific rape gangs much more than the actual horrendous deathtoll (not to diminish the horror of rape - often followed by murder - gangs. But still, Congo is comfortably back to primitive and we don't waste trillions or send troops or bombers to try to speed their evolutionary shift. Nor in Mali where they occasionally kidnap unwise or unfortunate tourists, and then there's Brunei where they have a quasi-enlightened Muslim dictator who either treats the people well or poorly - nobody's reported on Brunei in 100 years, at least not in any journal read in the West, so it remains a peaceful if somewhat fantastical land far off on the horizon. Papua New Guinea has largely stopped serving people au gratin or tartar so we don't much care about their progress or lack thereof, only that we hope the nearby Aussies are paying attention if anything untoward comes up. Or not. Lots of jungle cover, so what they do is between them and whatever Gods they have. Not on our to-do list (yet?). Chechnya on the other hand was too close to home (NY/LA/DC/sometimes London media centers presumably - not sure any other measures of importance), so our response was palatable if just a bit feeble & ineffectual. Worth noting all the attention on the "horrors" in Donbas, with perhaps a few hundred dead during the Russian-backed uprising, whereas the living conditions are still likely better than a number of Trump's "shithole countries" - not to mention 4000 daily deaths in India back in June & 1300 daily deaths in Indonesia this month. Einstein's Special Relativity Theory at work. And with corruption ripe in Africa and elsewhere, that greasing-the-palms that largely drives Afghanistan's inner workings is nowhere near unique - worth commenting, I suppose, yet we seem less interested in this basic "not quite free hand of the market" behind so much of the world's economies than we do that the women are required (by Islam, by the men, no thought/allowance that some is self-choice, despite the history of nunneries) head/face coverings. Presumably Brunei is too humid for the face bit and Saudi has too much oil or they'd all have our fervent attention to come in and do something. Meanwhile, ugly capitalism has revolutionized the world the last 50 years much more than any revolutionary doctrine - as long as the borders (Soviet? Chinese? Central American? SE Asian?) came down long enough to allow. Yes, Churchill was slightly off - capitalism (with a bit of socialism) is the wost possible system except for all the others. Even democracy not quite needed in all cases (it doesn't seem to be helping Britain right now). Ugly & warts and crude behavior and certainly the need to be contained in a myriad of ways - "free markets" must be maintained and groomed, not just run wild - but there's more hope in the urge of Afghanis to make money than in them seeking out ennobled behavior. Selfish motivations in the long run work best, though in the long run we're all dead as well, so where is that parallax? Even global warming wants to know, now that we got rid of our previous overpopulation demise. Or will we shift to pandemic after pandemic as our new catastrophe scenario, sinking planes & boats being so 70s?
    Liberalism’s graveyard | Sumantra Maitra | The Critic Magazine
    Oh to return to traditional American values everywhere?
    Or maybe something a bit more ritualistic and female affirming:


    About those girl schools - maybe not as much progress as hoped...
    Girls’ Access to Education in Afghanistan | HRW

    Results looking good so far for these guys:

    ”The main hope in Moscow, he added, is that the fallout from the Kabul withdrawal will lead to further political polarization inside the U.S., and to new strains in ties between America and its allies. “'


    A Tually that's a low death count, which helps explain why it went on so long.

    Agreed, a quarter of a million deaths is actually a low number just so long as you compare it to a bigger number. The 46,000+ is almost certainly a low counting of civilian deaths which has been standard practice for as long as I have been paying attention. Also, because policy dictated that if the body belonged to a fighting age male it was deemed to be an opposition fighter, I expect that many of the 53,000 in that category rightfully belong among the civilians.  

     Petraeus had more than 900 U.S. military die in Afghanistan during his time at command of that shit show but now he is featured on national news condeming Biden for the handling of the withdrawal which cost 13 lives. Thirteen actually is a small number. At least compared to a bigger number.

    You can see how fabulists fail up, realists fail down. Both media and military want that can-do esprit-de-corps bullshit enthusiasm, and even when things go totally pear shape/tits up, the optimists are invited back to share their "wisdom" - better TV and marketing.

    (yes, the numbers are undoubtedly far off reality - but then again it wasn't a Congo 2000, 5 mill dead)

    Still, with all the money we dumped into Texas since 1831 it's madness we didn't see this coming. LBJ or Barbara Jordan would've called it back in the day...

    On Pootie:

    ISIS bombs Kabul market but no US troops left - how to blame Biden? Oh yeah, we should have been there! To then complain about our senseless futile mission.

    Afghans in Gitmo - it's over?

    Lindsey Graham:

    Legit governing is so much harder than being an insurgent, hasn't that almost always been the case? Where's Allah, he was supposed to be on their side but governing, it's still really hard, hard work, as a former American president might say...


    last paragraph is the most interesting one:

    Not much is publicly known about the various business interests or wealth origins of Wardak, an ethnic Pashtun refugee who was born in Afghanistan in 1977. But public corporation records show he’s the president of a Miami-based firm called AD Capital Group. Various reports have also noted that his older brother Hamed Wardak, a Georgetown University grad and onetime valedictorian, is a successful businessman who runs military transportation company NCL Holdings. Based in Virginia but operating primarily in Afghanistan, NCL has secured lucrative U.S. government contracts in exchange for protecting American supply routes in Afghanistan; those contracts were reportedly worth north of a whopping $360 million.

    Assume you read the Guardian article, where the contract paid $18m first year, not close to the max $360m, and furthermore...

    Sources say NCL is billed $500,000 a month for Watan's services. To underline the point, NCL, operating on a $360m contract from the US military, and owned by the Afghan defense minister's son, is apparently paying millions a year from those funds to a company owned by President Karzai's cousins, for protection.

    The following was riveting, I heard the start on the car radio and ran to turn on the radio in the house when I got home. Highly recommended. He's got a Frontline documentary debuting on PBS on Tuesday, but Terri Gross undoubted got him to talk about unrelated stuff because she's such a good interviewer. Much more complex info. than the title might imply. You can do audio or read transcript

    A more moderate Taliban? An Afghan journalist says nothing has changed

    October 7, 2021 2:00 PM ET Heard on Fresh Air Terri Gross

    Najibullah Quraishi has won numerous awards for his reporting, including three Emmy awards, a Peabody award, an Overseas Press Club award and a DuPont award. He's currently in Kabul, where he's waiting to hear when he can get a flight out of Afghanistan.

    Courtesy of PBS Frontline

    [....] Quraishi grew up in Afghanistan under Soviet and Taliban rule, and began reporting on the Taliban before the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks and the onset of the U.S. Afghan war. He's currently in Kabul reporting for his upcoming PBS Frontline documentary, Taliban Takeover(airing Oct. 12) which details life in Afghanistan now — and the infighting between the Taliban and the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that is affiliated with the Taliban, and whose members are part of the new Taliban government [....]

    Interesting statement by Tariq Ali on the making a nation state from tribes thing since the 18th c; he's actually got a lot of interesting stuff to say in this piece, it's not all the usual lefty cant:


    Where's the outrage now, huh?

    (I think one thing wisdom of age can do is it's much easier to "get" this phenomenon; to recognize it when it appears.)

    The day 200 people trampled and threw themselves to death off a Baghdad bridge and it barely made a ripple...

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