Jeez (not sure that’s the best word), it sure looks busy in Afghanistan at the moment. I bet it’s hard to get a cup of coffee out there and drink it with a steady hand, what with all the accumulated shenanigans, tomfoolery and hi-jinks. What a palaver! Don’t worry, I know it’s serious: if I had a list of the five places on earth I really wouldn’t want to be right now I’m pretty sure Afghanistan would be on it, unless it was a really quiet part, with a well stocked bar, that hasn’t seen any trouble since, say,1852 and where my inability to grow a substantial beard would not be seen as an impediment to my continuing professional development. It must be hard growing up in a country where the people in charge judge you to quite an alarming degree on your ability to achieve a natural and abundant level of hirsuteness. It’s why Brian Blessed has a time-share in Kandahar.
Yep, it’s fair to say it’s not all fun and games out in Afghanistan at the moment but we shouldn’t forget that it hasn’t been fun and games in Afghanistan for quite some time. Joe Biden nearly tripped up over himself as he approached the podium to speak to America earlier this week, as if he had suddenly forgotten how to walk and had instead opted to bounce, but realised that at the age of 114 his bounce wasn’t quite up to it either and that he would have to quickly think of another way to transport himself upright over a carpet. He asked himself how many more Americans would have to die to justify pulling them out of Afghanistan, but he must have appreciated that he was addressing a country that is almost as fucked up anyway, while on the global stage about the only people who think he’s done the right thing are, well, the Taliban. America likes kicking butt, though it doesn’t like it when the boot isn’t on their foot. But is Biden alone to blame for the calamity that has finally reached Kabul? Of course not, he’s just more easy to blame than most.
There’s Boris, naturally, because he just did what the Americans were doing and he’s now been attacked from almost every MP that isn’t Boris himself. There’s every president and prime minister and foreign secretary that has tossed their weight into Afghanistan hoping for a good review and ending up with nothing on their hands except dust and blood and other people’s corpses. There’s that near-mythical chap, Al Qaeda, who kicked off the latest round of rubbish twenty years ago and then hid in a cave like some new version of Robert The Bruce, but with more bullets. Beyond that we can go back to the Americans for supplying Afghanistan with shit loads of guns (again) and John Rambo, so they could fight the Russians, and thus we should also blame the Russians in their absence and then every idiot that has ever thought invading or even trying to understand Afghanistan is worth doing, because it’s essentially been filled with dust and blood and other people’s corpses for longer than anyone reading this has been alive (with the possible exception of Joe Biden, though I doubt he’ll be reading). Have none of these people read ‘The Great Game’?
What is crystal clear amongst all this furore is that there are lots of auxiliary twats involved, some who meant well and some who did not, some who had a clue and some who were exceedingly stupid and in no fit state to hold any position of responsibility. But surely the greatest blame for the Taliban taking over Afghanistan after 20 years in exile should lie quite firmly at the feet of, oh yes, the Taliban. While we were busy helping to build what turned out to be the least effective fighting force ever seen in what was optimistically called The Afghan National Army (even the Afghan Navy could have done better) we sort of lost sight of the fact that we hadn’t destroyed the Taliban but merely brushed them away into another bit of the world that was very close by and hoped they would get permanently distracted by something else. And that was the big mistake. You see, the Taliban don’t waste their time on idle distractions like us and our decadent western friends. They ban (presumably the last part of their name is something to do with their persistent fondness for banning stuff; if not it’s a jolly fitting coincidence) all enjoyable irrelevancies such as music, film, banter, witty asides, croquet, blithering observations about the weather and so on, and instead focus all their attention on growing facial hair, tending to an assortment of second hand Soviet and American firearms, and ensuring that no matter how miserable they look their women are having even less fun (women must officially have less than no fun whatsoever at all times and woe betide the woman who comes close to having a distant, even futile, ambition in life).
I did briefly consider joining the Taliban. Say what you want about them but at least they are organised, have clear objectives and a can-do attitude; which is a lot more than can be said for some people who like to form governments. It’s true that my poor beard growing skills would be frowned upon, but then given that the Taliban tend to frown a lot anyway this may not be as much of an issue. Without music, film, laughter, freedom and alcohol in my life I would absolutely get a lot more done in other areas and I could spend a lot more time hunched on the back of a jeep, cradling a rocket launcher and yelling at things, which would make me feel infinitely more manly. And for now the Taliban are big news, and than might help promote my writing (provided I kept it within the confines of their strict laws). The finger of blame is recklessly flying about all over the place but I am certain that there is no chance the Taliban would all of a sudden be in charge of Afghanistan again if it hadn’t been for the Taliban still existing. We should have spent more time and effort on rehabilitating them with gentle cognitive behaviour therapy or some handy mindfulness exercises, but instead we shot at them and shooed them away, so no wonder they felt so marginalised and desperate to re-assert their authority on a broken, abandoned nation. It’s bloody obvious Afghanistan is not in a happy place at the moment – too much meddling and too few brains – and there doesn’t seem to be a lot anyone can do for it for now. You never know – I’ve got my fingers crossed that world peace is just round the corner anyway, so that’ll sort it out if the Taliban can’t.
G B Hewitt. 19.08.2021
Ps – we should have left Miles Routledge out there; he’s welcome to all the dark and danger he wants. The prick.