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Further, the British government and authorities in London, including the Duke of Wellington, wanted to preserve an independent Afghanistan as a buffer-state between British India and Russia.p>Naturally the Afghans made the most of it. A distinguished Australian author told me the following story of Afghanistan in the 1970’s: br> /p>
I was somewhere in Kandahar….There was a heap of what seemed to be haphazard rocks in the middle of the rutted intersection, some muzzle-loading cannon (mostly without carriages) and poles with bits of black, red and green bunting. There was a tiny oompah band dressed in USAF tunics over their long robes, all very informal except that it seemed as if a ceremony was happening. My host gave me the biggest toothy smile as he said something like: “This is Victory Day!”br> In 1878 the British returned with about 40,000 men to forestall what was seen as a Russian takeover bid. The Afghans by then had some well-handled modern artillery and the British took casualties in skirmishes, the biggest being at Maiwand. Maiwand was an Afghan victory but a Pyrrhic one — the British lost less than 1,000 dead, the Afghans several times that number, and were not able to field another strong force.
“Oh? Victory over whom?” (The Russians were still a few years into the future.)
To which the reply was, quite simply: “You. The British!” It all clicked into place.
However, Kipling — perhaps trying constructively to emphasize the importance of discipline and courage for soldiers, and also the importance of a force having some veterans in its ranks — wrote a fictional story, “The Drums of the Fore-and-Aft,” in which a raw British regiment panics and flees when charged by “six-foot fiends upon whose beards the foam is lying, upon whose tongues is a roar of wrath, and in whose hands are yard-long knives,” these fanatics being supported by the Afghan army.p>In this story the British eventually win, but in a wry, unheroic way: two small drummer-boys, left behind when the regimental band flees, get drunk on rum from abandoned canteens, and march about the battlefield playing their instruments. The Afghans want to take them alive to make Ghazis of them, but they are killed by flying bullets. The British regiment sees this, charges back in fury and discovers that “an Afghan attacked is far less formidable than an Afghan attacking; which fact old soldiers might have told them.” Despite this victory the disgrace remains. In the poem “That Day,” Kipling wrote: br> /p> blockquote> em>There was thirty dead an’ wounded on the ground we wouldn’t keep - br> No, there wasn’t more than twenty when the front began to go; br> But, Christ! Along the line o’ flight they cut us up like sheep, br> An’ that was all we gained by doing so.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online