View 734 Tuesday, July 24, 2012
They’re battling in Tajikistan. The government has killed dozens in the city of Khorog (pop 28,000 in 2000 according to Wikipedia). Khorog is on the border of Afghanistan, and was the scene of hard fighting in the Tajikistan civil war that supposedly ended in 1997. According to press reports the government, headed by a former Commissar when Tajikistan was part of the USSR, has been trying to consolidate its control of the country in the border areas against what the news media call “Islamist Rebels”. A quick look at the history of the region would indicate there are tribal factors dating back to the time of Alexander the Great, and that when the “Islamist Rebels” cross into Afghanistan many of them are then known as Taliban.
Reports of recent battles indicate that the Tajikistani government is using both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in its bombardments in Khorog, but unlike Assad of Syria President Rakhmon has not been condemned by the world press and has not been told by President Obama that he has to go. Given US dependence on Tajikistan as a supply base when Pakistan begins to squeeze US logistics, it would probably not be a very good idea for the US to denounce the former Communist officials now in control of most of Tajikistan from the capital of Dushande. How much control the central government has of the eastern provinces of Tajikistan is not clear; and as noted there are tribal factors. If all this sounds just a bit like Syria, but on a smaller scale, you may not be mistaken. The difference is that so far the US press hasn’t trumpeted for US intervention. Tajikistan is part of what used to be known as Russian Turkestan, and is next to areas formerly known as Chinese Turkestan; China and Russia have disputed borders since the days when much of Russia was under the Tatar Khanate of the Golden Horde, and other Hordes closer to China disputed just who could tax what along the silk road. About the time of Columbus Babar the Tiger established an Empire that ran from Samarkand to Delhi. His remedy to rebellion was to create huge pyramids of the skulls of rebels, at least one such pillar in what is now called Tajikistan. MSNBC would probably not approve of such tactics.
Simon Bolivar died of a broken heart. “He who would establish democracy among my people plows the sea,” he said shortly before he died, and his last words are said to be “There have been three great fools in history, Jesus Christ, Don Quixote, and me.” One suspects that even Bolivar would have hesitated to send western soldiers into Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, etc. with the fixed intent of establishing liberal democracy. It is doubtful that he would have thought Syria a fit place for nation building.
Nation building takes a fixed intention. Babur founded an empire, and was buried in his favorite place, a garden in Kabul. He was able to enforce obedience among many tribes and peoples. He also was willing – eager – to build pyramids of skulls.
The western tradition is different. See Kipling’s poems for more. The Widow’s Party will do nicely. The White Man’s Burden is no longer accepted by modern intellectuals. The United States declined that honor for some time – we are the friends of liberty everywhere but the guardians only of our own – until we tried our experiments in the Philippines. We have much to be proud of from our Philippine experience, but perhaps not of everything.
In Iraq the President has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Vice President, who has taken refuge in the Kurdish province of Iraq where Bagdad’s writ does not run. They’re bombing in Bagdad, and there are bombs in Kabul. President Assad is attempting to regain control of Aleppo. President Rakhmon has regained control of Khorog. Britain has added 1200 troops to the London garrison to protect the opening of the Olympic Games which promote world peace.
And they’re rioting in Anaheim. The happiest place on Earth.
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.