Joe Biden’s attempt to shirk responsibility for his part in the failure in Afghanistan has been accompanied by astonishing remarks about the Taliban. At first, his words implied a willingness to “trust” in their cooperation in publishing Americans and collaborators, because the Taliban “want to gain some kind of international legitimacy.“
Biden, who is a serial linguist, is trying to get back at him from the impression he is hoping for help from the Taliban. “They are not good guys,” he said the day after the massacre at Kabul airport, returning immediately to Soro: “We trust that their self.interest will affect their activities (—) it is not a matter of trust, it is a matter of mutual self.interest. “.
Attributing matter.of.fact judgment to opponents, or even enemies, is almost a necessity of reality in normal human behavior. Finally, most conflicts tend to end in some kind of agreement. In the absence of attribution of matter.of.fact motives, what is left for us to do, other than to look at others always through the direction, or shrug our shoulders at an unhelpful mixture of despair and indifference.
The urge to attribute a degree of rationality to enemies is more prevalent in a society blessed with pragmatism. What more pragmatic people do we have than Americans. They often show eagerness to apply their relevant criteria to others, almost compulsively. They do so in human relations and in business; And they do the same in matters of war and peace.
So maybe he liked jazz
The need to peel off enough layers from the enemy, to make us look a little less threatening, is perennial and ridiculous: something of the kind of banal cruises 40 years ago, when a new ruler came to power in the Soviet Union, and U.S. newspapers relished rumors that he loved jazz. To be a little less afraid of a jazz.loving communist (banned from playing on Soviet radio), even if he was for 15 years the almighty boss of the secret police, at a time of massive repression at home and abroad.
“Self.interest” is a different kind of argument. It does not involve idealization or romanticization. He assumes that you can do business with “bad guys” too. Is it really possible?
This question is better asked not only in relation to the Taliban, but towards any movement with revolutionary doctrine, with a totalitarian code of conduct and with Messianic theology. Which of these three elements is changeable? Is it enough for one to change, for the whole equation to change? Is pulling one equivalent against adding water to a cup of coffee?
We can certainly think of the ayatollahs, of Hezbollah, of Hamas; Thirty years ago we could have thought of the PLO. The famous formula of those days was that “the PLO would cease to be a PLO” if it recognized Israel. By the way, that is exactly what the United States did. It recognized the PLO on the day it announced its recognition of Israel’s existence, in December 1988.
Take.and.give with orange robes
What can change an organization, dedicated not only to the ideas of revolutionary world repair but also to cosmological repair? To change the order of creation themselves? Is such an organization capable of thinking of “self.interest” in the same way that most of us think? take and give? live and let live?
And that the Taliban had no “self.interest” in 2001 not to allow al Qaeda to attack U.S. soil? Even the ignorant clerics in their madrasa in Kandahar were able to understand that the “self.interest” required them to avoid crossing red lines. The Twin Towers, Taliban fighters were seen celebrating in the streets, and their government ceased to exist two months later.
The assumption is that they learned the lesson, right. The London Financial Times adorns a list of change in the Taliban in two comparative photographs: one from 1996, showing their warriors carrying weapons, wearing gloomy black galleys; And one of these summers, where the traditional kurta (the long shirt that slides below the knees), is painted a trendy orange. Maybe they even like jazz.
How did it happen? The answer is, that the spirits of the outside world were allowed to blow through the cave openings. Their longtime Spartan leaders have learned to savor the guest rooms of luxurious hotels. They already know that it is impossible to hide all the central bank reserves inside the tambour drums in the boss’s office (as it was before 2001).
But really according to the top will rule anything? Evidence from all over Afghanistan casts doubt on evidence of restraint at the Kabul Center. Most of the fighters did not relax in the comfortable sofas of Doha hotels. It is better to assume the possibility that their patience will expire, and they will want to see back to the kingdom of priests and the holy gentile of the previous incarnation.
What is at stake
A proven self.interest did not weaken Hamas’ willingness to sacrifice everything in favor of launching an orgasmic night; Or, 15 years earlier, throw the Fatah men off the rooftops.
But that is exactly the point: the definition of the self.interest of pragmatic people is inconsistent with its definition in Messianic revolutionaries. The willingness of Messiahs to obey the rules, from time to time, is temporary and deceptive. It is not just about jihadists. We saw this mutation almost 90 years ago in Soviet Russia, on the safe path to Stalinist hell (see NEP, or NAP). We saw it begin, and even lengthen, in China 40 years ago, until it gave way to totalitarian zealotry.
When a Pakistani general, one of the guardians of the Taliban, announces with pleasure that their return to power “begins an irreversible process of demolition of the way of life” [המערבי]”It’s quite clear that something not very pragmatic is at stake: the future itself.