Archive for the ‘ Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan ’ Category

The Fighter

New York Times Magazine

The Marine Corps taught Sam Siatta how to shoot. The war in Afghanistan taught him how to kill. Nobody taught him how to come home.

This is a very long article, but it does not discuss a fundamental problem – most of today’s youth cannot be productive workers in our highly technical society. Siatta could only be a fighter – nothing else.

This is clearly a deficiency of our schools – but our schools only teach what our parents want them to. They do not want to teach them how to learn.

Washington’s America-First Commandos in Africa

Americans would be the best-informed people in history – if they read locations like this – or if they read anything at all.

I have a cousin (female) whose children are all members of the military – or married to them. She even has a son who suffered a serious head injury in Afghanistan, and is permanently disabled.

No one in our extended family (except me) finds this the least disturbing. This only the battle between Good and Evil – and we are on the right side.

Disciples of Distrust

NY Review

This is so good, I can hardly believe it!

This is what makes blogging so interesting. You get to pick through heaps of garbage, looking for the pearls in it.

I liked this sentence especially:

Leaders are made by followers. The real question should be: what did the followers want that they could supply?

Coming from a Mormon background, I asked myself the same question about Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. What did his followers get from him? The answers, which the Mormons themselves strenuously object to, are fascinating – but had everything to do with the impact of Industrialization – the big event of the 19th Century.

Garry Wills focuses in the Iraq War – probably a good place to look in our time.

An American General is Killed in Afghanistan

Harper’s Magazine – July 1016

By a member of the Afghan military, using a American rifle.

This story is not being widely circulated – to read it online you have to subscribe to the magazine.

The problem can be summarized briefly – when you have a foreign military, financed and equipped by Americans, working closely with American troops – you are bound to have some random killings of the Americans. There is no way this can be prevented.

In this case, it was an American general – who like most generals, never intended to leave the safety of the Pentagon.

Afghanistan’s Theorist-in-Chief

New Yorker Magazine – President Ashraf Ghani is an expert on failed states. Can he save his country from collapse?

The bigger question is – should Americans give a damn? Or, more realistically – do they give a damn? And the answer is clear – they don’t.

After 9/11, they were in favor of going after Bin Laden, and his gang – but somehow they got involved in much else. After getting nowhere – they decided to get out – only to be told they were responsible for saving the country.

This article explains what that involves. It’s a long, tiring read – but someone in America should be reading it. It is surrounded by failed states – and should have a policy for dealing with them.

But it doesn’t. It should be leading the world, but can’t even lead itself.

The Situation in Turkey

New Yorker

I traveled in Greece and Turkey back in the Seventies. Of the two countries, I liked Turkey the best. But since then, both have gone downhill badly.

The troubles in Greece have received more publicity – but this article describes the troubles in Turkey – with some names not familiar to American ears – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Ahmet Davutoğlu.

America has not not done much good in either situation – and has even made the situation worse.

What are We Trying to Accomplish in Afghanistan?

I have just read What Chance for Afghanistan? which reviews three of the latest books about the place. If all of the writing about Afghanistan (by Americans) were stacked in one place it would make an imposing pile.

This reviewer is saying that making Afghanistan a modern state is nearly impossible – but we should try anyway!

Because, as an expert on the place (he is a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar) – his services would be invaluable.