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MikeP

"Check Six"

Currently reading

The Guns of August
Barbara W. Tuchman, Robert K. Massie
Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia - Ahmed Rashid **BREAKING NEWS**………………**BREAKING NEWS**………………**BREAKING NEWS**………………

Announcer Brett: “Folks, we go our reporter in the field, R.V. Winkle, now for some breaking news. What have you got for us Rip?”

Reporter R.V. Winkle: “Brett, I have just finished this outstanding book, “Taliban”, and we need to do something about these guys, they are bad people!”

Announcer Brett: “Rip, you are a decade late, go back to sleep you idiot”

Ok, I have no excuse for not reading this book until more than 10 years after it came out and the title characters have caused so much trouble. I thought it was probably outdated when I first saw it. I was wrong then and now. This book is still relevant today. You get to see the rise of the Taliban with no romantic, “they just wanted to have peace” background music. You get a solid background in the ethnic groups and their leadership, still forming the main forces in play today. What I took from this book:

The breakdown of tribal ties and land ownership had/has a continuing impact on the stability of Afghan culture that may never be repaired. This was the main factor giving the Taliban leadership blind followers from the orphans and broken up families.

The imposition of extreme interpretation of Islam, especially on women, was hated by many of the Pashtu people and all the non-Pushtuns. The tensions between the local culture/customs and the religious mandates are discussed throughout.

Strange, I almost felt like doing *fist-bumps* with the Iranians, as they were the only Islamic group that apparently openly opposed the strict interpretation forced on women’s lives.

There are no “good” guys, only less bad. There is no trust or friendship without a time limit or a dollar amount.

You can skip the parts of the book about oil pipelines. The sections of the book detailing the influence of the transport “mafia”, Pakistan, and the ISI are very good.

How much did the UN and NGO’s enable the Taliban campaigns by supporting the population with food aid? Too Much? Why didn’t we stay minimally involved after the USSR left?

This book comes up in several other accounts about our early days in Afghanistan after 9/11. I’d like to see him update this book and reissue, it is still useful. Regardless, this is an important link to understanding Afghanistan in the years between the Soviet defeat and the US invasion. 4 Stars.