Zan, Zar, Zamin 183

Last weekend, on August 6 – as reported  here –

U.S. Special Operations troops were closing in on a secret Taliban summit thought to include a high-value commander in Afghanistan’s rugged Tangi Valley when they ran into an insurgent patrol that pinned them down.

They asked for reinforcements, so-

Before dawn …  members of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six packed into a twin-rotor Chinook transport helicopter and rushed to the rescue …

As their Chinook was about to land … an insurgent shot it out of the sky with a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, in the deadliest attack endured by the American military in a decade of war in Afghanistan. Thirty U.S. special forces members were killed including members of SEAL Team 6 [the team that killed Osama bin Laden].

Immediate questions arise:

How did the Taliban pull it off? Why were the SEALs packed into an aging, slow-moving Chinook helicopter flying at low altitude? Were they on a mission only they could pull off or were they being overused to save a failed Afghan strategy? …

A strategy to achieve what? To change Afghanistan?

The impossibility of changing Afghanistan in the least degree, let alone turning it into a modern democratic state, could not be more clearly understood and vividly explained than it is by Daniel Greenfield in an article at Front Page:

Pedophilia, forced marriages, blasphemy trials and drug dealing. That is the real Afghanistan. The one that lingers on even when the Taliban are chased into the hills. That cannot be changed by American intervention because this is who its people are.

We might have been able to save Afghanistan from the Taliban, but we can’t save it from the Afghans. From the quarreling clans and warlords, the age old customs and the Islamic mores. Beyond a sliver of Western educated men and women in Kabul lies a land of a thousand cruelties and a million knives. With a vendetta around every corner and murder in every heart.

There is no Afghanistan, only a thousand divisions. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that replaced the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is an internationally funded mirage. A multi-billion dollar fund with its own flag and its own mercenaries. And because these mercenaries won’t fight, our soldiers go out to fight and die in their place.

Beneath that flag there is no unity. There are only divisions. Sunnis and Shiites. Pashtuns, Tajiks and Hazaras. Men and women. Groups with nothing in common except the Koran and the knife. …

Afghan jails are filled with women fleeing abusive marriages. Fleeing home carries with it a ten year jail sentence. The analogy to escaped slaves is as obvious and inescapable as a Muslim marriage. Adultery is the catch-all charge that can be leveled at a woman at any time, married or unmarried, a young girl or an elderly woman.

The Afghan man has three tools of power. Zan, Zar and Zamin. Women, gold and land. A man with many women will be able to breed many sons and expand his own clan. A man with a great deal of gold will be able to buy weapons and take his share of the drug and human trafficking networks. And a man with much land will have his own kingdom.

This elemental tribal power defines Afghanistan. Women are at the bottom of this pyramid. But so are minority ethnic groups. …

And on top of the bubbling kettle is Islam. No religion would be quite as fit for this backward tribalism as a religion that began as a warlord’s cult. Islam does not unify Afghanistan. For all that the Islamists imagine a Caliphate, Islam adds only another layer of division. Ethnic divisions in Afghanistan are also religious divisions. And Islam adds religious sanction to the oppression of women and the massacres of rivals.  …

Islam’s influence has only embedded the savagery deeper beneath its dusty skin. Everything that is bad in Afghanistan has its supporting verse in the Koran. The culture of the tribal raid, its emphasis on victory as proof of divine sanction and its contempt for women– finds its echo in the Koran. …

The tribal raider is unable to imagine any higher idea than the honor of his family. But Islam adds the idea of the meta-tribal identity. The Islamic Ummah as the ultimate tribe. It is an idea that allowed Mohammed and his successors to loot and pillage their way across much of the world. And the world is bleeding from a million wounds, stabbed, cut and pierced by the followers of that idea.

20th century Islamists took the ugly tribal feud and globalized it. They took backward places like Afghanistan and turned them into platforms for a global war. We may be able to save ourselves from the puppet masters behind this shadow war, but we cannot save the Afghans from themselves.