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Samizdata quote of the day

This might be the only measurement you need to judge the Afghanistan War. Vendors in Kabul are doing a brisk trade in Taliban ringtones. Because Afghans report that the Taliban kill travelers at clandestine checkpoints if they don’t hear one of their messages on someone’s phone.

- The opening sentences of a Wired piece by Spencer Ackerman entitled Either Your Phone Plays Taliban Ringtones, or You Die

12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • David Gillies

    We should never have tried nation-building in Afghanistan (Iraq was a different matter and if it fails it will be thanks to Obama’s pusillanimity.) While we maintain the fiction that Pakistan is an ally, rather than the chief enemy nation, victory in Afghanistan cannot be achieved with a conventional counter-insurgency strategy. And we’re a long way from the measures that would truly be necessary to cut the head off the snake. But the longer we postpone the reckoning, the bigger the butcher’s bill will be, on both sides.

  • I hate to defend Obama, in my opinion, the nation-building idea in Iraq was extremely naive, and the fatal stroke was giving sovereignty back to the Iraqis prematurely, which Bush did. We didn’t really do nation-building in Germany or Japan, we did reconstruction. They already were nations. Genuine nation-building requires a “heavy footprint,” with bans on polygamy and cousin marriage, and takes 500 years. I’m also afraid that Joe Biden was right, and it needs to be broken up into three countries.

  • chuck

    And don’t forget his scoop about anti-Islamic bias in FBI training materials!!! Man, that Ackermann sure knows a lot. He writes for Wired!!!. And he threatened his former editor at TNR that he would “make a niche in [his] skull” with a baseball bat. A real warrior that Ackerman, knows a ton about Afghanistan I’m sure. And brainy!!! Remember his deep strategy to ‘start randomly picking conservatives — “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”‘ That’s real journalistic integrity there. I’d believe anything that man told me.

  • We are wrong not to ban cousin marriage in Iraq? And it is a partial explanation for our failure to turn them into ‘our sort of people’?

    Please expand on why that which is perfectly legal in the UK should be banned in that country.

    Best regards

  • MicroBalrog

    Why would you ban cousin marriage in Iraq when it’s legal in the US?

  • Here’s the article on cousin marriage I based my comment on. The degree of relatedness being discussed varied from first to sixth cousins at various times and places. No, I don’t it would have been practical to do this in Iraq. The point is that a serious attempt at nation-building would have been far beyond the range of what is politically feasible in the current US.

  • John B

    Like most of the wars the west loses, such as Vietnam, I think they could have been won had they not been lost from within (the west).
    Which is horribly sad for everyone concerned.

  • Dom

    Hmmm. Aren’t ringtones free? You think, maybe, Ackerman made this up?

  • Rosscoe

    The fact that mobile Phones are now so common that the Taliban give a toss about what ring tones someone has, and the fact that’s a market to buy ring tones (of all the useless crap you can waste money on that has to about the worst) might demonstrate that there has been a huge change for the better in Afghanistan?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I actually disagree that Bush moved too fast to give Iraqis self rule. It is the opposite way round. As Doug Deith and Runsfeld have argued, they did not do enough to get Iraqis involved. Bremer wasted precious time and allowed the old Baathists and others an opportunity to stir resentments.

    I see no viable strategy for us in Afghanistan. Part of the problem is Pakistan. The whole region is incredibly hard to deal with. It makes more sense to focus elsewhere.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I meant “Feith”

  • I feel bad about not having read Feith’s book. If the mission was a punitive expedition or a strategic raid, early self-rule makes sense. The controversy is over the feasibility and methods of nation building. I confess to being one of the initial optimists. There was an argument going on in my head between the voices of Amartya Sen and Ralph Peters, as to whether we could all get along once the Iraqis were out from under Saddam or if there really was a “clash of civilizations.” Peters has won this argument, IMO.