The Places in Between, Part II
I've been finishing the book, The Places in Between (by Rory Stewart), as I cool my heels here in Leipzig. Two quotes stand out for comment:
"They were religious questions. Islam, much more than Christianity, is a political and social religion. Clear rules govern who and how you can marry. In this region most people married their first cousins."
And then: "Everyone in Rezak was descended from a single grandfather. There were six houses and seventy people in the village..."
The river valley Stewart walked through in the winter was inhabited by small clans and tribes. The two quotes above describe the lineages from which all these tribesman descended. What I haven't quoted is Stewart's discovery that these tribes constantly warred with each other and most of the tribesmen (certainly not the chattel (women and dogs)) never moved further than 40 kilometers each way down the valley in his lifetime.
I keep thinking back to the images of the "imams" we see in the news. Am I wrong that these guys all look f...ing crazy, have one eye, and are toothless? I attribute most of it to inbreeding! I'm serious! How does a western power civilize groups like these and restore central government? When you consider all that Karzai has accomplished since 2003 (read nothing), the answer is -- you can't. All we can do is kill our share (or more than our share since we're nearly alone in doing it), call it good, and move on.
This book has reinforced my worst fears about the potential end states resulting from our occupation. Vietnam never looked so good.