The More Things Change . . .
. . . the more they stay the same. That is how the old song goes, and given what happened at the Inter-Con Hotel in Kabul this weekend, it pops into my head again. There was a lot of bad news all over the world, Syria, DC, Kabul. There was some good: the Women’s March.
In Kabul at the Intercontinental Hotel, gunmen, deaths, hostages. It was an ongoing situation when last I looked.
It has been a long time since nineteen-seventy-nine, Feb. 14th. US Ambassador Dubs in Kabul was kidnapped and taken to the Kabul Hotel. He was held hostage and killed during a failed rescue attempt. My father was a doctor, stationed there at the time. He was called to the hotel where he examined the man and told them there was nothing he could do for him.
That was thirty-eight years ago next month. Given what the Soviet’s and the US have done to Afghanistan, I would say that our military intervention and policies have failed badly. Time to rethink this folks.
There was a story on the web in the last year of McMaster showing Trump a picture of women in Kabul in mini-skirts in the seventies. He convinced Trump that we could make Kabul like that again. I assume there was some military solution. Thirty-eight years of military solutions. It is long past time for the Afghan people to get what they want. And if it is not what the Americans, the Russians, the English, or the Chinese want, so be it.
When I was last in Kabul, it was the early seventies, it was just after the first “bloodless” coup. Mohammed Daoud Khan had just taken over from his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Khan. He was trying to head of a communist movement. He was finally assassinated by that movement in seventy-eight. At night I remember the flashes of artillery fire in the Khyber Pass. The previous king and the Pakistani government had a deal with the Pathans, the Pashtuns. They paid them to let traffic through unmolested during daylight. At night, that was your problem. My guess is the coup upset that deal.
Kabul was a beacon of modern civilization. Ariana air was partly owned by TWA, the Peace Corps was there, and they wandered into town once in a while. They had been taught Dari, but the villages they were in spoke Pashtu. The borders were porous and contraband moved fairly well across them. It supported the local tribes. The provinces were controlled by the local tribes. There was an annual bushkazi event where the King awarded a gold coin.
It fell apart, but it worked until the first coup and trying to bring democracy to the place. Socialism did not work any better. I think I would describe how the country worked as enlightened self-interest. Not necessarily somebody else’s tribal interests, but your own. How are you going to put it back? That is something the US government really has to ask itself, because so far they are grossly misinformed. They cannot even do that in the US right now.