A couple, or was it three, decades ago or so, I remember finding it quite funny when a girlfriend told me that she was studying “Amerikanistik”. “Now, how can you study American society and language without having been to the United States”, I said. Her reply was quite simply that “you don’t need to touch fire to know that it burns”. Now she wasn’t all wrong and although I haven’t visited occupied Palestine and although I haven’t been to Afghanistan and although I seen the Democratic Republic of the Congo etc etc, I am sure that I get it more or less right with a lot of things when I write about them.
If further proof of the above was needed it is provided by the news today of Mathew P Hoh resigning from his post as the senior US civilian in Zabul province, a Taleban stronghold in Afghanistan and, in his letter of resignation, we have him saying things like the United States is supporting a corrupt government in what is essentially a thirty-five year civil war and that “like the Soviets, we continue to bolster a failing state, while encouraging a system of government that is unknown and unwanted by its people.” Well, anyway, Mathew goes on and I won’t but the “revelations” in his letter right down to the US of A not having a real strategy and young Americans sacrificing their lives in vain all hit the nail on the head and while it is all “old hat” to the less myopic of us, it is coming from an American official, a man who has “touched the fire”, and maybe, just maybe, someone will be listening to him and maybe, just maybe, today will be a good day for them to take the blinkers off, a day when we learn that “a total of 55 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this month, nearly half of them in recent days.”