Afghanistan is made up of all sorts of tribal peoples, which, trust me, Taliban will be unable to subdue. All they have been able to do is move the clock back to about 1979 when the USSR invaded just to insure they had a government in Kabul favorable to them.

Sometime after GW Bush sent American troops to Afghanistan, many on horseback, to drive Al Qaeda and their allies into hiding, including Bin-Laden, after 9/11, like Russia, American specialists’ eyes got bigger then their bellies. I quit paying attention when Obama doubled the size (and mission) of our troops there in 2009. In my lifetime we’d seen this kind of mission-creep before and they always end poorly. Look for all sorts of books to hit the shelves from every wing of the pinhead class, only I doubt that any of them will ever get it right, simply because few, if any, have actually seen the country up-close and personal, as the hero of the novel, The Horsemen, mentioned below had to do because of a broken leg.

We actually had a chance to steer Iraq toward a stable democracy that might have lived long enough to invoke the 3-generation rule, as Japan has just done, but it would have required a firm military presence there, and as an occupier, as we did with Japan, only for about twice the number of years. A generation at least. My friend Moses Sands, who died in 2008, laid all that out in The Prospects for Democracy and the Arab House. But I doubt if those elements could be achieved for Afghanis in 70 years.

Still, it really is, or could be an interesting place.

This music will give you a sense of the heartbeat of those people.

Caravans Theme, 1978


Ride to Agadir, 1980s about the Moroccans driving the French out of Morocco.

Both are by Mike Batt.

It seems Mike Batt is one of those “desert loving English”, which is what Prince Feisal called T E Lawrence during the desert war against the Ottoman Turks in World War I. The lyrics of “Ride to Agadir” are instructive in that even the Saharan Arabs are preferred to the French in English minds.

The Caravans theme (above), which was actually about Afghanistan, though clearly not filmed there. It was from a good novel by James Michener, but an only average film, even with Anthony Quinn as the tribal chief. It’s set in 1946, just after WWII, and built around a nomadic group who travels the caravan routes of Afghanistan.

The better feel for the tribes of Afghanistan would be Joseph Kessel’s novel The Horsemen, about a northern tribesman who comes to Kabul to represent his area at the annual buzkhashi, which is a sort of polo match in which mounted horsemen attempt to place a goat carcass across a goal. Played by Omar Shariff in 1971, the hero is injured and spends weeks, months (I can’t recall) traveling around Afghanistan, ashamed to go back home until he heals. For insights into tribal culture I recommend this story. And yes, Kessel was French.



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