2022: The Situation in Afghanistan

So prohibiting women and girls from getting an education increases the chance of future national success?


No idea what you’re talking about. I’m talking about how our incredible failure at everything, including protecting women and girls, meant zero chance of success in Afghanistan. Without our meddling, maybe there’s a non-zero chance of progress, small as it may be. But better on their own then with our incompetence and corruption-aiding bumbling.

… I think we decided that it is impossible to shove democracy down the throat of a country which has no foundation whatsoever upon which to receive it. That’s different than ‘not being worth it’.

Does that mean your plan is forthcoming or are you just doing the world’s worst Miles Davis impression?


Many Afghans left the country in the 1970s, following the games between the Soviet Union and America (including supporting the Taliban) because, contrary to aspersions, they do like autonomy and they are not stupid.

So, speaking of foundations, if you were an educated Afghan woman who by now has a nice life in Paris, what would it take for you to come back and be a university professor, or start a business?

Yes, maybe I was using a bit of hyperbole there. I would change it to after 20 years trying, we decided it wasn’t worth continuing to do so.

I’d think, given the tribal nature in Afghanistan, that they already practiced a type of democracy - possibly voting on leaderships, debating in a local forum, setting relations with other tribes - and so having a western equivalent forced on what has worked for generations wasn’t acceptable (and maybe impossible, imagine the opposite happening in the west).

Oh, I am sorry if I was unclear. You bore me. Please do go on about how some people, some cultures, cannot possibly reach Western levels of governance. I have to go bowling.

There is nothing recognizable as ‘democracy’ in tribal rule. It is a totalitarian theocracy with authority distributed along shifting tribal alliances, with each tribe ruled by a strong leader or small council along their individual interpretation of Pashtunwali and Sharia law. Because there are so many tribes and different interpretations there is no central authority or even broad agreement, thus ‘defeating’ the ‘Taliban’ is essentially a game of Whack-A-Mole that ends up producing more insurgents than it eliminates. At the height of the Afghanistan Occupation, the US and Coalition forces never had real secure control of a majority of the region, and when the military forces became two powerful whole tribes would just retreat into Pakistan which would provide cover to maintain its own internal political stability, and then return once Coalition forces turned elsewhere, destroying all infrastructure that was built and attacking forward operating bases left in the area.

The sentiment is mutual. Enjoy your bowl.


That’s along the lines I was thinking, with small communities having a degree of autonomy where rule over their day-to-day lives isn’t practical. Larger issues like which crops to plant or where/how to sell them will be agreed on at a larger scale to concentrate power within the tribe.

I would describe N Korea as a totalitarian theocracy, unless I’m reading it incorrectly I cannot do the same with Muslims in Afghanistan - none are God’s choice of leader and they’re free to leave the country (afaik).

North Korea is a totalitarian regime, e.g. one in which everything that is not permitted is forbidden, but is not a theocracy. The reverence of Supreme Leader is more fascistic than theological even though the propaganda does try to imbue the Kim Dynasty with deity-like attributes.

Tribal leaders and the mullahs that advise them are essentially treated as if appointed by Allah and with the absolute and final authority on strictures and punishments; not just regarding actual crimes but on all manner of social transgressions, as Shiara law covers nearly every aspect of life under fundamentalist Islamic theocracy. Although there is no central authority, each tribe maintains plenary authority over its members to the extent of being able to arbitrarily punish or execute them at the whims of clerical interpretation.


What’s the difference between a cult and a religion?

Isn’t the Supreme Leader still the original Kim, with fatty being his rep on Earth? :laughing:

You’re correct, I thought places like Afghan and Saudi were just ‘theocratic’ and to be a Theocracy would have to have Allah (PBUH) as their actual leader.

Not sure a place like Afghanistan could be labelled a totalitarian regime, though. I’m totally aware of Sharia Law and how it’s applied by Imams, but if it is then so are Saudi and other places which use it. You can still be haram in Saudi, but should be careful how you do it, to what extent, and who with. Senior Princes often have bars in their houses and/or holiday in Bahrain and Dubai (what happens outside of Saudi, stays outside of Saudi), plus you can buy grape juice in the KSA in packs of 12 litres - who drinks 12 litres of grape juice??

It’s true of course that local laws are interpreted by the individual Imams but their power will only go so far; in a small settlement you piss off enough people and you lose respect (and maybe a hand or your head). There isn’t sufficient surveillance to have a single group exercise complete control over the actions of the population.

I’d call it an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy (might be some redundancy there) with totalitarian leanings but also some democratic activities at the local level. That might not be 100% accurate, but it’s interesting to consider.