Did you hear about the captured Russian gunship pilot shot down in Eighties Afghanistan? (If you’re of a squeamish disposition, I’d skip to the next par). First they gave him tea; then they gave him heroin, then they chopped his foot off, then they raped him; then, once he’d recovered from the first amputation – nurtured of course by traditional Pashtun hospitality – they raped him some more, before chopping off another of his limbs. And so on – nice, nasty, nice, nasty – until they had tired of their plaything and granted him the mercy of death.
The only detail of that true story that I’m not sure I’ve got exactly right is when they administered the heroin: was it before or after the amputations? But I don’t think anyone familiar with Afghanistan would doubt its essential veracity. Similar stories come out of Helmand every day: girls having acid thrown in their faces for attending school; school teachers being hung, drawn and quartered or crucified for having the temerity to teach girls or disobey the Taliban. It’s just how the Afghans are: tough on human rights; tough on the causes of human rights; definitely not the kind of people you’d ask to babysit your kitten while you were away on your summer hols.
President Obama: palpably upset and concerned at being forced, much against his will, to blame his predecessor for EVERYTHING.
So how come this message appears completely to have eluded the current President of the USA? Has none of his advisors read Kipling? Or the first Flashman book? Or heard or read a single thing about Afghanistan or the bad stuff that happens there? Only President Obama appears to have got it into his head that what the Afghans are really crying out for now to make everything better is for the US to launch an inquiry into how the human rights of certain captured Taliban might have been abused in November 2001 by an Afghan warlord Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum. To whit, he killed the lot of them – 100s, if not 1000s and buried them in a mass grave.
Now, POTUS has promised to launch a full investigation into the incident – for reasons of course which have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Dostum was on the payroll of the CIA and therefore, by extension, of the Evil Bush Administration. (Hat Tip: Jake Tapper)
“If it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, then I think that, you know, we have to know about that,” said Obama.
Really? Of course, one is saddened by the terrible fate administered to those peace-loving Taliban by the horrid Gen Dostum; of course, it is a grievous pity that they are no longer around to blow American, British and Canadian boys to pieces with IEDs or throw acid at schoolgirls or mutilate schoolteachers. Yes, it goes without saying that this is not the way Western forces ought ever to be encouraged to treat their prisoners.
But the point surely here is that these prisoners weren’t in the hands of Western forces. They were in the hands of an Afghan general who found an Afghan solution to an Afghan problem. And isn’t this, after all, the thing the Allied coalition is supposed to be encouraging in Afghanistan right now? We have, after all, come to accept after eight years of near-fruitless slog that we’re not going to win total military victory, let alone transform Afghanistan into a Western-style democracy. So where’s all this nonsense suddenly coming from that the US’s most urgent priority there is to investigate the killing of Taliban by a non-American in the chaos and mayhem immediately following 9/11? (And incidentally if killing Taliban – plus sundry innocent civilians – is really such a problem, oughtn’t Obama to be investigating himself?)
Surely it can have nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Obama’s poll ratings are falling, his economic policy is failing, unemployment is rising, his universal healthcare plan stalling, his cap n trade running into serious opposition, and his Afghan adventure looking more and more likely to turn into his Vietnam?
Surely a man as palpably noble and decent as Obama would never be so unprincipled as to try – for a second time in three months – to court cheap popularity with his nation’s enemies by undermining his own intelligence services and blaming everything on the CIA and George W Bush?