I consult the ghost of Xenophon on Afghanistan


“Ah, Xenophon, I am glad you could spend some time with us.”


“I was not doing anything.”


“We have a bit of a problem in Afghanistan. Despite overwhelming military superiority, we are losing.”




“It is a mountainous land east of your journey through Asia – the people there somewhat resemble the Kurds.”


“Ouch! Kurds! Tough fighters, never give up. They never accept that they are beaten. Lots of little ambushes, right? Like that?”


“Right. Exactly like that.”


“I regret that I had to kill so many brave men. Station your most valiant men, your best equipped men, and your most able generals in the rearguard, and get out as swiftly as possible, as I and my men did.”

“Unfortunately, if we do that, they are likely to raid us again.”

“They raided you before! Well then, kill enough of them that they do not do it again. One in ten might suffice, then get out … though if they are anything like the Kurds, you might have to go back in and double up.”

“Ummh … it might be hard to find the right men to kill.”

“Kill the women and children. The brave men will appear soon enough. Kill the brave, and the rest do not matter.  Then get out.”

“The women and children?”

“Spare some of the pretty ones, of course, to please the troops. ”

“Our allies might find this tactic disturbing.”

“Did these Afghans raid you first?”

“Some of them did. Others disapproved strongly.”

“Evidently not strongly enough.  You need tougher allies.”

Next, the ghost of Raffles.

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