21 June 2006
Colonial wars and how to understand them: the case of Afghanistan
The Exile is old enough to remember the colonial wars of the 1960s and 1970s. Especially the pattern of optimistic statements followed by the more downbeat, guarded versions that get slipped out quietly in the hope that no bugger notices.
Afghanistan today follows a similar pattern. First we are all invited to cheer as the Anglo-Americans charge forward, using attack helicopters to kill lots of people. These corpses are presented as insurgent dead, but are usually anybody who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place. Anyway, if past wars are anything to go by, all these attacks do is allow the guerrillas to recruit new fighters, but that is not going to be obvious to people who don't remember the sad history of twentieth century colonialism's defeats.
Then we get the kicker: the statements which say that the Taliban are actually tougher than previously thought. The colonialists are still going to win, of course, but the enemy are putting up a fierce resistence.
And so it goes on, and on, and on. Until at some point in the future even the most gullible warmonger can no longer swallow any more of this idiocy. Then the troops leave, the collaborators get strung up from trees, and life in that third world, third rate shithole goes back to what it was before the occupation began.