Theocratic Autonomous Zone

The New York Times is serializing David Rohde's account of his captivity in the Taliban-controlled portion of Pakistan. Like Jeff Tucker, I found this passage particularly interesting:

I was astonished by what I encountered firsthand: a Taliban mini-state that flourished openly and with impunity.

The Taliban government that had supposedly been eliminated by the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was alive and thriving.

All along the main roads in North and South Waziristan, Pakistani government outposts had been abandoned, replaced by Taliban checkpoints where young militants detained anyone lacking a Kalashnikov rifle and the right Taliban password. We heard explosions echo across North Waziristan as my guards and other Taliban fighters learned how to make roadside bombs that killed American and NATO troops.

And I found the tribal areas -- widely perceived as impoverished and isolated -- to have superior roads, electricity and infrastructure compared with what exists in much of Afghanistan.

I suspect that last detail reflects the relative wealth of Pakistan and Afghanistan, not the Taliban's enlightened management. But now I'm curious how the tribal areas' infrastructure compares to the rest of rural Pakistan.

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  • ||

    Jesse,

    I would imagine the Taliban are getting some serious bucks from our "friends" the wahabist Saudis and are spending at least some of it on infrastructure as a way to seduce and buy off the people there. So, I bet the infrastructure there is better than most areas of Pakistan. Just a guess, but a pretty good one I imagine.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Don't forget their sympathizers here and others who think they are donating to hospitals and schools.

  • Warty||

    He escaped by building a suit of powered armor, right?

  • ||

    No, the guy who rescued him was wearing the suit.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Sounds like the Kyle Kramer experience.

  • ||

    The Kyle Kramer Experience

    Can we please not have another thread about prog rock?

  • robc||

    All threads are about prog rock, whether you realize it or not.

  • @||

    And zombies.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    And Star Trek.

  • ||

    I would imagine the Taliban are getting some serious bucks from our "friends" the wahabist Saudis

    I would say more than just them John, poppy proceeds can buy a lot of asphalt.

  • Joe||

    Did they have free healthcare?

  • Mango Punch||

    Yes, it's called a bullet to the back of the head, cures any disease.

  • mark||

    Not only that, they have zero cases of rape, as it's much easier to simply get a marriage license.

  • Xeones||

    Only two cups of coffee into the day, i originally read the title of the post as "Theocratic Erogenous Zone." Yow.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    The simulated necrophilia link earlier had a powerful effect . . .

  • ||

    In the grand scheme of modern times, roads, electricity, and "infrastructure" are pretty cheap.

    The usual impediments to infrastructure are not wealth or management, but rather corrupt or unconcerned governments, strung out supply lines vulnerable to militant interference, and roadside bombs.

    It makes sense that areas controlled by people who make their life's work blowing up other people's roads would have good roads.

  • Mango Punch||

    Does Honda blow up roads too? Civic Musical Road

  • ||

    Drop the bomb. Exterminate them all.

  • ||

    Jeez, some people really hate reporters.

  • Xeones||

    It makes sense that areas controlled by people who make their life's work blowing up other people's roads would have good roads.

    How so? What do they practice on, then, smart guy?

  • ||

    Ever heard of Pakistan?

  • Shannon Love||

    (1) It's not to unusual to find revolutionary/anti-government movements that can manage basic civic functions better than the central government. If they weren't, they wouldn't poise much of a threat. If you're David, you have to be more effective than Goliath.

    Such groups are often initially composed of zealots who take their commit to improve their people's lives very seriously. Prior to their success, the communist in China were paragons of incorruptibility and relative efficiency compared to the nationalist. Of course, after the war is won and power consolidates, the bastards take over.

    A lot of westerns in the 20th century looked at the relative lack of corruption in revolutionary movements and wrongly concluded that the movements ideology generated the lack of corruption when in reality it was just the cohesiveness that any group develops when they fight a serious external threat. Only when the major threat is eliminated, does the actual ideology begin to be a major force.

    (2) A significant part of the wealth of the Taliban areas of Pakistan is the proceeds from their war against the rest of Pakistan. They engage in international crime of many kinds, they receive subsidies from foreign forces and they loot and steal from Pakistanis.

  • Jesse Walker||

    A lot of westerns in the 20th century looked at the relative lack of corruption in revolutionary movements

    Those would be Red Westerns, right?

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    I watched Duck, You Sucker! last night and found its take on revolutions interesting. One of the two main characters at one point expresses his reluctance to participate in the revolution (I think it was one of the Mexican ones, it was kind of hard to tell) and says that, essentially, revolutions never do what they're supposed to do. Sure, they overthrow the government, but then the leaders of the revolution proceed to do the same things the previous leaders did. So the only real result of a revolution is that the poor people who fight get killed, and then the whole thing starts over again.

  • The Chad||

    That tends to happen with revolutions. See: Iran, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Russia, China, USA (over the longer term)

  • ||

    To be fair, we need to distinguish revolutions that are intended to overthrow governments from revolutions that are intended to overthrow social orders.

    The American Revolution was distinctly different from most any other revolution in history. It was intended to overthrow a government only, with the express purpose of restoring a rights-respecting social order that the Crown's subjects had come to expect and had found slowly taken from them by the British authorities.

    Thus the American Revolution was relatively successful. Most other revolutions result in decades of misery because social orders don't get overturned easily.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    This is true.

  • ||

    Cool!!! I say, lets keep throwing billions down this rat hole and lets keep throwing away the lives of young Americans for no particular reason except the inertia of having started this stupidity in the first place. And then lets continue to struggle to invent some rationale for being there.

  • Rimfax||

    And they're funding terrorism...in Iran?!! Common ground, anyone?

    Though, I'm thinking common ground with Iran, rather than with the Taliban. Also, I am quite possibly incorrectly assuming a connection between the Taliban and Sunni terrorists from Pakistan.

  • BakedPenguin||

    And [the Taliban] are funding terrorism...in Iran?!!

    Great, so let's let the Taliban blow up the Iranian reactor site (assuming it's not functional), and get the hell out of there.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    There are few problems in this world that cannot be solved with a few more bombs.

  • ||

    Xeones: Where is this "Theocratic Erogenous Zone" you speak of?

  • ||

    It's when you slam your cock in a Bible.

    It's sexier than you might think...

  • ||

    Great, so let's let the Taliban blow up the Iranian reactor site (assuming especially if it's not functional), and get the hell out of there.

  • MJ||

    "But I also saw how some of the consequences of Washington’s antiterrorism policies had galvanized the Taliban. Commanders fixated on the deaths of Afghan, Iraqi and Palestinian civilians in military airstrikes, as well as the American detention of Muslim prisoners who had been held for years without being charged. America, Europe and Israel preached democracy, human rights and impartial justice to the Muslim world, they said, but failed to follow those principles themselves."

    Of course, our antiterrorism policies came into being as a consequence of the Taliban government pro-terrorism policies. Is there anything less deserving of sympathy than Islamicist whining?

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