December 07, 2001


read it

Robert Kaplan is one of those few journalists who actually take the time to learn about the history of a place before reporting on it. Kaplan seems to spare no expense, particularly his own comfort and safety, to reach this goal. Kaplan's Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan was originally published in 1999. It has just been released in paperback in a new n' improved edition to follow up on the events of 9/11. While the cover of the book seems to imply that it deals with the inner workings of terrorist groups, it is actually an exhaustive account of Afghanistan during the era of Soviet invasion and occupation.

Kaplan, while detailing the events of the mujahadin war, does not pull punches for anyone. The Left's patron saint, Alexander Cockburn, is skewered for having the gall to actually endorse the Soviet invasion. U.S. policy (and the intelligence work behind it) is taken to task for basically supporting the wrong set of revolutionaries.

Of particular note to readers currently are three revelations:

i. That airport U.S. forces recently took from the Taliban? We built it in '56.

ii. Kandahar, which has recently been held up by the anti-war crowd as an example of U.S. over-doing-it in the bombing department, was virtually destroyed by the Soviets during their years in Afghanistan, and is symbolic of the vast numbers killed in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation (estimated at over 1 million).

iii. That John Walker twit? He's the tip of the iceberg. Pakistan is full of "schools" which turn out holy warriors for the next jihad and do so using students from all over the world, including the United States. Kaplan met a kid from L.A. (and several other Americans) at one of these places, who all agreed that the U.S. is "a place of decadence and materialism for which only the prophet Mohammed had the answer" (and they sure as hell ain't talking about Ali).

I've blathered on enough. Go buy this thing!

December 04, 2001



Attorney General John Ashcroft winces as President Bush prepares to quip: "Hey, the smeller is the feller."