The Past Will Always Be With Us

The New Republic has published an introspective of the Afghan war in the form or essays by nine intellectuals, and the Belmont Club has joined in the discussion. My own feeling is that the intellectuals miss the point, which is that the Afghans do not wish to be brought into the twenty-first century, nor any other century. They like things as they are, and will fight fiercely against those who try to change them. Alexander, the Moghuls, the British, the Russians, and now us, have all tried to conquer Afghanistan, all tried to pit one tribe against the other and thus gain control, all without success. We must remember that the past is here to stay, we cannot change it, we cannot erase it, we can only try to remember it.



We cannot wish the gun unfired

Reverse the call that got us mired

The past is past and by the way

The past is here and here to stay

You cannot win without the will

You cannot bid the earth be still

You cannot call the tribesmen mate

Unless you wish to share their fate

Afghanistan is of the past

An ancient world, one of the last

Where tribe and family is the law

And life is brutal, short and raw

They do not wish to be like us

Nor like the Brits nor like the Russ

Leave them be to live their lives

The Alexanders and the Clives

All failed and left without a clue

It’s time we bid them all adieu  



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