17 January 2006

the great game

As someone rather nearer the Pakistani-Afghan border than most reading this post, it strikes me that the senator's comment below rings about the same as many comments in various Rudyard Kipling novels and their various filmic spin-offs. The arrogance and, to go back to an earlier post by sam, unbelievable blindness to history, not to mention disregard of oh, um, numbers and oh, well, facts is amazing to me. It's not as if someone doesn't know what's going on in Afghanistan or Pakistan, it's that we don't have people who speak the language on the ground, and we purposely blinder ourselves to thinking through anything that might be difficult. it's easy to say that the Afghan-Pakistani border has been a fought-over, chaotic region for millennia, that it appears to be the wild west, but it's much more difficult to actually sit back and figure out what kinds of order have been imposed there over these same millennia, to ask about tribal affiliations, regional shifts, politics, and actually recognize that as we see in Deadwood, the wild west was in many respects anything but wild, controlled by smart, entrepreneurial men (and women) who would do just about anything to maintain their independence in the face of governmental/outside control. Sigh. And maybe we should read our colonial history, or hey, even our colonial fiction, just to get a better sense for what we're in here and how not to do it. Just a thought.

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