Sunday, January 22, 2012

On understanding the Afghan military partnership

This was contributed by a former colleague. He knows more about the intelligence business than the whole blooming Agency combined.

Now a French trained Afghan has killed four French trainers.

To some of my acquaintances who believe that Islamists are for the most part peaceful and so on, I make the following comment. I lived in three Arab countries, and traveled in a number of others, and dealt with locals on a regular basis, but never came to the point where I felt I could really trust one of them completely. So, I posit the following to these people.

Let us assume that you live next door to a devout Afghan Muslim family. For some years you and your family have had good relations and you are in social situations essentially comfortable together. One day a Mullah comes to the male in the Arab family and says something like this.

"Your American neighbor has a close relative fighting in Afghanistan who with his military unit was responsible for blowing up a Mosque in your village outside of Khandahar. Some of your relatives were killed. It has been decreed that in retaliation you must kill your next door neighbor--even if you should later be killed by the infidels you will be a martyr."

Now here is the problem. Which will win out, your friendship with the Arab in which case he will not act against you, or he will, because of his total devotion to Islam, follow the instructions of the cleric and comply with the instructions passed to him. (I for one would not want to deal with this option.) Of course, one can introduce factors that would tend to obviate this dilemma in some way. But in its essence it is still out there.

I have never given up my strong sense of cynicism about Arabs and how, when, and where they place their loyalty. As you know, Brits said you can't buy an Arab but only rent him. Certainly in our Stations it was an attitude that was easy to adopt and act on.

We had a friend in Baghdad, an elderly but wealthy Arab who had the Carrier Air Conditioner distributorship for several Arab countries. He felt he was too old to continue to manage it and so gave the business to his son to manage. The son did so for a brief while and then disposed of it, making a lot of money. He promptly went to Beirut to live in a big penthouse, and became a playboy. Don't know the end of this since we were evacuated at the time of the 6 Day War, but such intra-family betrayals are not, I believe, unusual.

I never felt they trusted each other, and now, with factions arising in the mobs of the Arab Spring, it is easy to see that unity and loyalty does not rate high among them. Well, I guess we, you, I and others of us have fought our battles, will become victims, of the wisdom of our contemporary leaders who see good in all those things, people, and places we question.

And thus ends my colleague's offering. Are all Muslims this devious? No, not the modern ones. But a Muslim who believes in guiding his life according to Sharia,....

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