At times the wonderful ‘Mr Hope’, the President Elect, Barack “superstar” Obama, sounds more like ‘Mr Hype’ and even on occasion a bit like ‘Mr Hopeless’. It has to be said that this man has a brain, therefore, you have to wonder as to the real reason behind his espousing such hopeless, idiotic gibberish on, for instance, Afghanistan. In an interview at the end of July he discussed what American strategy in Afghanistan should be saying, “I can tell you what our strategic goals should be. They should be relatively modest. We shouldn’t want to take over the country. We should want to get out of there as quickly as we can and help the Afghans govern themselves and provide for their own security. Our critical goal should be to make sure that the Taliban and al Qaida are routed and that they cannot project threats against us from that region.”(1) What poppycock, piffle and pathetic posturing all indicative of a hapless hopelessness that is going to see even more people die. Does anyone really believe that America is being threatened from Afghanistan? It is good to know, however, that he doesn’t think “we” should take over the country. That should at least limited the number of dead on all sides before “we” do decide to leave with “our” tails between “our” legs. Christ, does he think we can take over the country? Today, I stumbled on a certain Mountstuart Elphinstone, who at 29, according to the ‘Times’, “was absurdly young, entirely fearless and very slightly mad. But he was also highly intelligent, fluent in Persian and Hindi, and profoundly observant. His book about his Afghan adventures – An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul – remains one of the most perceptive surveys of Afghanistan yet written, with such sublime chapter headings as “Rapine – how occasioned”.(2) Now, in Mountstuart’s case his very slight madness really was offset by his ability to observe and come to a sane conclusion. When the British marched into Afghanistan in 1838 to bring about a regime change, Montstuart, by then in retirement, advised against it arguing that the venture was hopeless. A little ditty, “Das Trauerspiel von Afghanistan” (The Tragedy of Aghanistan), from the German poet, Theodor Fontane, emplifies the price the British had to pay for not following the advise of the “very slightly mad” Elphinstone; in the fourth verse, Fontane writes; “”Wir waren dreizehntausend Mann, Von Kabul unser Zug begann, Soldaten, Führer, Weib und Kind, Erstarrt, erschlagen, verraten sind ” (13,000 men we had been, when our departure from Kabul was seen, now soldiers. leaders, women and bairn, are all betrayed, frozen and slain).(3)
The evidence would appear to suggest that the “very slightly mad” Montstuart was a trifle more perceptive when it came to Afghanistan than the very sane Barack. Bye the way Barack, my understanding of it is that the British “didn’t want to take over the country” either, they just wanted a change of regime or, perhaps, more accurately, they just wanted to support “their” legitimate Shuja government “against foreign interference and factious opposition.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
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