Anna Badkhen is writing a series on her trek from Kabul to the North of the country to see what’s going on there. She makes an observation up close that I’ve been remarking on from a distance for some time now.
The last time I was here, Afghanistan’s north commonly considered the safest section of the country. You could hail down a taxi in Mazar-e-Sharif to drive to Kabul; you could stop for a lamb kebab at a roadside café; and if you decided to stay at a chaikhana for $15 a night you worried about bedbugs, not kidnappers.
With the Taliban banished, villagers clenched by poverty still died of hunger and diseases, the literacy percentage among women remained in single digits, children as young as six still joined the work force, and landmines and cluster bombs continued to kill and maim hundreds of people each year. But, compared to now, those were happy times.
While the world was distracted, the Taliban quietly returned to the north.
You could say the same think in the area around Bagram as well.
Spiegel writes about Uzbek militants in Kunduz. One bit of annoyance. The story references photos throughout but then doesn’t show them.
I just finished listening to the audio version of The Road to Kandahar by John Wilcox. I will do my best to avoid the term ‘rip roaring’ in my description but it’s going to be difficult. I’ve never read other books in this genre of 18th century British military fiction like the Sharpe or Hornblower so I can’t compare it but I did enjoy this book with it’s generous quantities of stiff upper lipisms, nick of time rescues and British soldiers fighting against overwhelming odds. I’m not sure how the dead-tree version reads but I highly recommend the audio version as the reader, Graham Padden, is superb. Ok, I’m a bit partial since I’ve been agitating for some decent Afghan-themed military fiction and the 19th century provides enough distance from current events to give me the flavor I’d like without the despair of seeing the headlines.
Michael Yon (the Great Ego of the Hindu Kush) has apparently been disembedded (and I don’t think that’s a word). Of course Yon (who appears to have read too many Dan Brown novels) is convinced this is because of a secret cabal of generals, politicians and who knows who else to keep him from revealing THE TRUTH to the world. Oh, and by the way, Yon has also decided he’s the only person in the world who can/will report the hidden truth. This is apparently a huge blow to freedom or some such nonsense but don’t worry! Yon has promised to keep going…the lone voice in the wilderness.
Hey Mike, get off the cross, will ya? Somebody else needs the wood.